Do you remember much about high school? It’s a time when your only worries should be exams, hanging out with friends and cleaning your room. The usual teenage stuff.
In January 2017, Harrison was a young, fit 17-year-old when confronted with a completely different set of worries. Harrison had been to the doctor with a sore shoulder after “mucking about with mates”. He expected to need rest. Instead he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancer that attacks bones.
Harrison admits, “When I heard the diagnosis I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t cry or get angry. I felt blank and it was hard to process. You just don’t expect cancer to happen to you.”
Harrison, with his family by his side, spent the next few months preparing for his life-saving treatment, a long regime of chemotherapy.
It’s heartbreaking to imagine kids dealing with such frightening news. After all, cancer is probably the last word a teenage boy expects to hear.
You might already know from our work that keeping children connected to school is a vital part of supporting them through the traumatic experience of cancer treatment.
Harrison agrees, and adds, “I stayed in touch with my school mates on social media, but I didn’t want them coming in to see me. I had just started Year 12 and was worried about missing so much school. Fight Cancer Foundation came to my rescue and funded a teacher.”
Did you know that in 2018 it is estimated that more than 1,000 Australian children will be diagnosed with cancer?
As you can imagine, this has a devastating effect on their education and friendships. On top of dealing with their life-threatening diagnosis, children can feel lonely and disengaged when schooling is interrupted.
Children worry about missing out or falling behind. As Harrison tells us, “Not having control of my life was very frustrating. But I looked forward to seeing my teacher every week.”
Harrison underwent chemotherapy for seven long months and missed the entire school year.
The wonderful news is that when you donate, you’ll keep the classroom door open for a young person like Harrison.
We developed our education support program with a special focus on:
Educating school staff about Harrison's illness.
Helping his teachers develop a learning plan so he can continue his studies.
Providing a teacher when extra support is needed
Supporting Harrison as he transitioned back into class after his life-saving treatments were completed.
For Harrison, this practical help meant he didn’t have to worry about school. Instead he channelled his energy into fighting cancer and getting better.
In fact, he tells us, “I really looked forward to my weekly learning session, as it got my brain working! It was an important part of my rehabilitation.”
Harrison agrees, “I am very grateful for the program funded by Fight Cancer Foundation. I restarted Year 12 this year. Although I am taking it slowly by finishing VCE over two years.”
An amazing young man, Harrison is now cancer-free. Reflecting on his cancer journey, Harrison says, “Seeing young toddlers and children on the ward really put my situation into perspective. I am thankful that a cure was possible for me.”
On behalf of countless other children and teenagers like him, we’re very grateful for your ongoing commitment to helping people when they need it most.