Jane McGrath was born Jane Louise Steele on 4 May 1966 to Jen and Roy Steele, a now retired newsagent in Paignton, Devon, England. She worked as a FLIGHT attendant for Virgin Atlantic Airways when she met her Future husband in a Hong Kong nightclub in 1995. They married in 1999 at the Garrison Church and had two children. She became an Australian citizen on Australia Day, 26 January 2002. McGrath was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) on 26 January 2008 "for Service to community health through support for women with breast cancer and the establishment of the McGrath Foundation."
McGrath first learned she had breast cancer in 1997 at the age of 31. Following a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she was deemed cancer-free by June 1998. Despite fears that cancer treatment may have left her sterile, she later gave birth to two children who were both breast-fed. In 2003, McGrath was diagnosed with metastatic disease in her bones. In 2004, she appeared with her husband on Andrew Denton's Enough Rope on the ABC, describing her work for the foundation and her personal experiences.
In 2005 Glenn and Jane McGrath founded the McGrath Foundation, a charitable organisation dedicated to raising money to fund more breast care Nurses in rural and regional Australia, and to increase breast awareness in young women. The foundation has so far raised over $12 million, and as of January 2015 has placed 102 McGrath Breast Care Nurses, who have supported over 33,000 Australian families experiencing breast cancer.
In early 2006, brain metastasis was detected and by May, she was undergoing radiation treatment at three-week intervals. The tumour was found and successfully removed. At the time, she lost her hair and became depressed, but again went into remission and continued her work with the foundation. She became severely ill in mid-June 2008 and died on the morning of 22 June at her Cronulla home; she was 42. McGrath's funeral was held at the Garrison Church.