Our next Footy Colours Day ambassador to join our team is as brave and inspiring as they come. Scoring tries against cancer with us this year, meet Molly!
As the youngest in a sports-mad family, Molly devoted as much of her time as she could to playing sport alongside her big sister. Tragically, this was taken away from her when she was told she had a rare form of cancer on her 12th birthday that would see her lose the bone in her right leg and her ability to play sport.
Molly first started showing signs that something wasn’t right while playing in a basketball tournament and state age netball championships in Sydney, when she felt a niggle in her calve.
On Molly’s 12th birthday, July 2018, this is where Molly’s mum Angela says “here is where our story stopped, and we started role playing someone else’s”.
Molly was diagnosed with a high grade osteosarcoma with a probable spread to her lungs and pelvis. Treatment started straight away. The family were told that in 10 weeks’ time Molly would lose most of her lower right leg, but before that, she would have to endure six rounds of the worst chemotherapy any adult or child can have.
After the first round of chemo, Molly’s leg broke right through the tumour. For five months, from July until November, when she had surgery to remove the tumour from her leg, Molly was non weight baring and in a full leg cast. After the operation in November, Molly then had another 17 weeks of chemo to overcome.
From diagnosis until completion of chemo – about 300 days – Molly was absent from school and the family were unable to return to their home town of Dubbo. The only exception was to allow Molly to attend her year six graduation.
Due to complications with her leg, even though the family returned home in May 2019, Molly was still unable to attend school very much at all last year. Thankfully, our education support program and the wonderful teachers at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick were able to help Molly keep up with her education.
For Molly, the program brought her a sense of comfort.
“I was really sick most of the time, but on my good days it was lovely to see the teachers. They kept my mind active – we played lots of fun games – they tricked me into doing schoolwork! It was nice to know I wasn’t falling too far behind, to touch base and know I was still okay was really good. Something I didn’t need to worry about on top of everything else” she said.
Molly’s mum, Angela, explained the program was equally if not more important for their current year 12 daughter and Molly’s big sister, Maddi. As the whole family moved from their regular life in Dubbo to be together through Molly’s treatment, Maddi was also absent from her normal school for an extended period of time.
“Maddi attended hospital school and sat her year 10 exams there. She would not have been able to achieve all she has without Donna, her teacher from the program” she said.
For any young person, the transition from primary to high school is an extremely daunting and scary experience. This is magnified for kids with cancer as they try to adjust back into everyday life.
“When you leave that hospital and go home it is just as tough on these kids trying to fit back in at school. Moll went from being sporty and strong and very social, to having her most important things taken away from her including her ability to ever play sport again. She almost feels like she has to work out who the new Molly is.
“Since heading back to school, Donna has continued to be amazing. She has touched base with Moll’s school numerous times and this itself gave Moll comfort knowing she had her back. They get what we have been though and it’s hard for a mainstream school to understand, so having Donna there has been incredibly special and we would be lost without her” Angela explained.
Despite no longer being able to play sport because of her internal prosthetic leg, Molly is now coaching instead. Her favourite subjects are English and Health, and when she finishes school she hopes to do public speaking or motivate others to get through hard times.
Molly has recently applied for a position on the NSW youth advisory council, as she wants to be the voice for kids just like her. The selection process begins with thousands of children across NSW applying. We are watching in anticipation to see if Molly has been successful in being one of the final 12 chosen.
“These kids – because of what they have to go through – are some of the most amazing, resilient, tough kids this country has. I have no doubt these children will go on and do amazing things. Ensuring their education is not affected any more than it has to be is very important” Angela said.
All funds raised through Footy Colours Day go towards Fight Cancer Foundation’s education support programs. By hosting an event this footy season you help kids with cancer, just like Molly, keep up with school through an extremely difficult chapter of their lives. Join the Footy Colours Day team by registering here.