NATALIE Miller lost both her parents the day her mother died.
Her father, Stan, was completely devastated and threw himself into his work. He spoke to his daughter through notes on the kitchen table where he also left money for groceries.
"He was just a wreck, he just wasn't himself," Mrs Miller remembers.
Her mother, Marie, had been fighting breast cancer for nine years. She was only 39 when diagnosed.
"She was vibrant and funny and kind. She never, ever had a bad word to say about anybody."
The two were best friends and, although Marie died more than a decade ago, the tears still flow when Mrs Miller, of Glen Waverley, remembers her.
"Anyone would tell you that she's just an amazing, wonderful, kind-hearted person."
Marie died in palliative care only days after her daughter turned 19. One of the last things she did was to give her daughter the pendant she wore.
"She was absolutely spaced out on morphine but I remember her taking it off and she gave it to me and said, 'This is yours'."
Afterwards, it was as though Mrs Miller had lost her lifeline.
"It just seemed like we were deserted and it was all up to me.
"I had to take over the household duties and look after my sister.
"It's taken me this long but, when you go through something like that, you want to become a link in the chain to finding a cure, no matter how small a part you play."
Now 30, Mrs Miller has two children of her own and will be taking part in the Cancer Council Victoria's Girls' Night In, which aims to raise awareness and money for breast cancer.
The event, which will be held at the beginning of November, is her third and will have a disco theme. She's hoping to raise more than $1000 for research in memory of her mother.
"My mum was 39 when it all started and I feel like I'm not immune to getting it myself. And now that I've got two little boys, I don't want to leave them.
"It's extremely important for me for a cure to be found so that there's no more motherless children out there to this disease.
"If that can end, if they can find a cure, that'll be fantastic. And if I can have a small part in finding that, I feel like I've done my job."
To donate to Natalie's fund-raising, visit vic.cancercouncilfundraising.org.au/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=489409#.UGAFkYhN_nI.ffacebook