“Every child and their family deserve to be well, maintain hope and continue to dream.” This is the motto of the Child Cancer Foundation.
The Foundation’s invaluable services are funded through a combination of campaigns such as the annual Street Appeal, donations, community fundraising initiatives, signature events, bequests and corporate partnerships. Child Cancer Foundation doesn’t receive any government funding so every donated dollar really counts.
In this blog, we take a minute to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work that the Child Cancer Foundation does every day.
Every child and their family deserve to be well, maintain hope and continue to dream. Click here to make a donation.
Child Cancer Foundation
Child Cancer Foundation’s support is based on three pillars: accessing treatment, ensuring the well-being of the child and family, and keeping families connected. Following a diagnosis and referral, each family is assigned a Family Support Coordinator who helps families navigate their child cancer experience.
Each family is different and so support is tailored according to the needs of each family. For instance, while one family might be struggling with everyday expenses like petrol, heating and food, another family may be feeling isolated or overwhelmed and simply need someone to talk to. All families have access to the same level of support, appropriate to their unique needs and situation.
The Foundation also funds and supports child cancer research and provides grants to medical professionals to further their training in the field.
All of this is made possible by Child Cancer’s dedicated staff, generous Kiwi donors, corporate partners and volunteers who help raise over $6 million each year to deliver the Foundation’s services.
Without this support, the Child Cancer Foundation would not be able to continue its work, and wouldn’t be able to share the inspiring stories of children like Mason or the O’Brien family.
Stories of hope
Mason Millan was diagnosed with standard-risk B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in November 2016. He was just two at the time. Unsurprisingly, his parents Ivan and Victoria took the news hard.
Says Ivan: “It was a massive shock. One month we had an energetic, healthy little boy. The next, he was incredibly sick in hospital. When you hear a diagnosis of cancer you fear the worst.”
Mason received intensive chemotherapy within days of being diagnosed. He stayed relatively well during treatment until he contracted chicken pox over the 2017 summer holidays. It spread to his lungs and he developed pneumonia. His immune system struggled to fight it and he had to spend two weeks in Starship Hospital.
“Mason was the sickest we’ve ever seen. He couldn’t talk and lost his appetite. He had a temperature over 40 degrees for ten days and lost a lot of weight. We thought we might lose him,” say Ivan and Victoria.
Fortunately, Mason pulled through and he started going to school in 2019. He has also started playing junior ripper rugby for the Massey Rugby Football Club and is due to finish treatment in January 2020.
Child Cancer Foundation was there for the family from the beginning. A few days after Mason was diagnosed he was introduced to his Family Support Coordinator Franziska who, in addition to providing advice and support, gave Mason his Beads of Courage®, which he and his parents found to be incredibly therapeutic.
The family was given a wellness pack and a Christmas hamper and made good use of Child Cancer’s Auckland Family Place while Mason received treatment. The family attended various events arranged by the Foundation including movie nights, parents’ events and Christmas parties. Counselling was also arranged for Victoria through the Foundation.
Says Victoria: “Nothing can prepare you for a child cancer diagnosis. We felt lost and didn’t know how things were going to go. It was incredibly reassuring knowing Franziska and the Foundation were there to support and empower us to make the best decisions we could, every step of the way.
“We also learned a lot about ourselves and our priorities through Franziska and the Foundation. We learned that it was OK to be upset or frustrated even though Mason was doing well relative to other children. We learned to accept help from others, to be kinder to ourselves and not sweat the small stuff. Our family also became closer as the Foundation gave us opportunities to do things that we might not ordinarily have done together.”
Importantly, towards the end of Mason’s treatment his family felt empowered enough to share their experience and advice with other families going through child cancer. Ivan and Victoria also put Mason forward as an ambassador for the Foundation so that other families could draw hope and inspiration from his experience.
Macc O’Brien, the son of Nicole and Jay O’Brien, was supported by the Child Cancer Foundation after being diagnosed with cancer in Auckland in April 2017. The couple also have a daughter named Eva. Five months into Macc’s chemotherapy treatment, Jay was offered a job in Nelson. It was a good opportunity for the family so Jay accepted and the family relocated to Nelson in October.
Unfortunately, not long after moving to Nelson where Macc continued with his treatment, Jay’s job didn’t work out and the family fell on hard times. Once their Family Support Coordinator became aware of their change in fortunes, she helped Jay apply for a grant to obtain a truck driving licence so he could look for work. He got his licence and was offered three jobs. Jay is now working full time to provide for his family.
Happily, Macc is also doing well. The family is incredibly grateful for the “life-changing” grant they received from the Foundation.
The Professional’s work with the Child Cancer Foundation
In 1993, a child known to one of the group’s agents passed away from cancer. The agent saw how beneficial Child Cancer Foundation’s support was to the family and so started fundraising for the Foundation out of the Palmerston North office. This was the start of a relationship that has lasted over two decades.
Over the past 25 years, Professionals has helped establish two Family Places in Auckland and Wellington, holiday homes in Taupo and Arrowtown and have contributed to the purchase of the national office in Auckland. In total, Professionals has raised $5 million for the Foundation.
In 2016, Professionals also became the official sponsor of Child Cancer Foundation’s Specially Important Brothers and Sisters (SIBS) camps, which play an important and empowering role in the support the Foundation provides to siblings of children with cancer.
Without local communities and generous Kiwis pulling together, the Child Cancer Foundation wouldn’t be able to continue supporting families like Mason’s.
Make a difference. Make a donation to the Child Cancer Foundation today.