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“I lost my younger sister to ATRT brain cancer when I was 10. Seeing her undergo chemotherapy was extremely challenging for my whole family. Being so young, I didn’t understand the seriousness of her illness and believed we would be bringing her home from the hospital shortly after her diagnosis. Living in a rural town meant my dad had to travel back and forth to the city to see my mum and sister, whilst also caring for my older brother and me. All our family are in the UK, so they were unable to care for us immediately. I spent weeks at friends’ houses and apart from all my family, which made me feel quite isolated. I began to see less of my parents and life became, unlike anything I could have imagined.
We lost my sister in early 2016, only three months after her diagnosis. Losing her has been an unimaginable pain. After returning to our rural town, we saw a local family psychologist who told my brother and me that my parents were 75% more likely to divorce – news no child wants to hear weeks after losing her sister. Our house became spiritless and felt empty for months. We had little support other than a few families from school and two family members who flew in from the UK.
I attended a Family Fun Day with Camp Quality a few months after my sister passed away, where my brother and I were gifted a bike each (I still ride that bike to this day at age 18). We were astonished by the generosity. My first ever Kids’ Camp was at the age of 11 where I was amazed at how welcoming and supportive all the volunteers and staff were. My grief journey was quite confusing for me at the time, and I never really felt like anyone understood what I was feeling or thinking. At this camp, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of relief and joy when I learnt there was another bereaved sibling. After a day full of fun activities, when I finally met her, I burst into tears.
I am now a Connect App Leader, and Youth Advocate for the charity ‘Canteen’. I have spoken to members creating the Australian Cancer Plan and have provided insight as a bereaved sibling. My goal is to ensure no bereaved sibling feels isolated and alone like I did in the early stages of my cancer journey and Camp Quality has enabled me to grow and help others. I hope to continue helping other young individuals affected by cancer, plough through some of the most challenging years of their life.”
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