LESS than two months into her career as a journalist, Stephanie Kay wrote the feature piece that has won her a coveted Clarion award.
Ms Kay won the category of Regional and Community Feature Article or Opinion Piece at a ceremony in Brisbane on Saturday night and said she was "absolutely gob smacked" to receive the award.
"It was a huge privilege to win," she said.
"The story was and is something that meant a lot to me."
The feature article, which ran in the Chronicle in September last year, detailed Ms Kay's battle with bowel cancer.
Ms Kay bravely shared her battle with the disease, including how she underwent a radical and complicated procedure to fashion a portion of her small bowel into a replacement rectum, which meant she wouldn't have to use an ileostomy, a type of stoma, where waste goes straight from a diverted small bowel, into a bag attached to the belly wall, for the rest of her life.
"An ileo-anal anastomosis, commonly called a J-Pouch, would mean I would only have an ileostomy bag for a short time, while the pouch healed," she wrote in her feature article.
Ms Kay's article raised awareness about the disease and its treatment throughout the Fraser Coast community and she continues to be a proud ambassador in encouraging people to think about their health.
Ms Kay wrote in her feature article that Associate Professor Graham Newstead, chairman of the International Council of Coloproctology and spokesman for Bowel Cancer Australia, wanted bowel cancer to become a dinner-table conversation.
And at the awards night, that's exactly what her article achieved, which was something she was proud of, Ms Kay said.
Ms Kay said it wasn't an easy article to write, but she was glad she did.
"I really had to put my heart on the line," she said.
"They weren't easy things to write and think about.
"I just tried to be as honest as possible."
Being surrounded by many other top journalists at the Clarion awards was also an inspiring experience, Ms Kay said.
"It was fantastic."
Ms Kay said it was especially pleasing to see so many other women accept awards on the night, including fellow APN journalist Emma McBryde, who won the award for New Journalist of the Year.
"I feel very lucky to be a journalist," Ms Kay said.