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C stands for childhood, cancer, and cure

Rachael and Charlotte Peachey

C stands for children, cancer, care, cure, compassion and charity. Every person, young and old across the world is touched in some way by cancer.

There are many types and stages of cancer and the topic is something many people feel uncomfortable discussing. Raising awareness, however, is key to early detection and raising funding for research can lead to recovery and cures.

Rachael Peachey is a survivor of cancer in that she has lived through the loss of her daughter. With a great deal of courage, she shares her story. In 2013 Rachel received a call from Charlotte’s school. “They asked if I could please come to the school to take her to the doctor. Your heart sinks as you see your daughter’s beautiful cheeky smile dropped on her left side and she is slightly stumbling every now and then as she walks towards you, complaining that she wants to stay at school and doesn’t want to leave yet. It’s the last day of school term,” Rachel explains.

Within hours of arriving at Princess Margaret Hospital Charlotte (6) was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). DIPG usually occurs between the ages of 4-11 years and is the most devastating of all childhood cancers. According to the Children’s Cancer Institute, “Each year 20 kids are diagnosed with this incurable form of brain cancer. There are no effective treatments for DIPG and current therapeutic strategies are essentially palliative. The average survival rate from diagnosis is around nine to 12 months medical research is the only way to help end this cruel disease.”

Charlotte passed away 9 months later at home in Bullsbrook, but not before earning herself a Lions Bravery award. Charlotte was nominated by the hospital staff who thought so highly of her. The Institute used Charlotte’s brain tissue for research and Rachel lives in hope. “We still have no treatment or cure for this deadly brain tumour,” she said. “So many families have been affected by DIPG and so many of us are fighting for more awareness and, therefore more funding, to find a cure. You can help by sharing Charlotte’s story, and think about donating to the Institute, The Benny Wills Brain Tumour Research Program, Isabella and Marcus Foundation, Charlie Teo Foundation and Run DIPG.”

Ella McLennan (7) is a current student from Charlotte’s school where she is remembered by future generations and has a special plaque. She was recently inspired by her friend and former Lower Chittering neighbour Ava-Grace’s leukemia story (@Ava’s Wish Group) to raise $700 for the Kids with Cancer Foundation Australia by shaving and colouring her hair.

Ella with sister Charli watching on. Photo by Kim McLennan.

Acacia Houston (9) found her recent stay at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) more bearable thanks to Starlight Children’s Foundation. She was honoured by Captain Miraculous with the title of Starlight Captain Bloom and hopes to help other kids. The room near ‘Fun on Four’ is a place for children and teens to escape and hang with the superheroes who also visit the wards for children confined to bed or isolated with low immunity from treatment.

Acacia’s older sister Sara is a survivor of childhood advanced stage 4 Osteosarcoma, which she was diagnosed with just before her ninth birthday in 2004. This type has symptoms similar to growing pains, is rare and aggressive and attacks the bone. Sara endured over two years of chemotherapy, over 30 leg operations and at 25 is still in remission. Despite this she also has fond memories of her time at PMH in the old ‘Megazone’ Starlight room.

Madison Dallywater (9) recently took a sporty approach to fundraising by participating in the Starlight Super Swim. She raised $1100, far exceeding her $200 goal and swam almost 17 km, surpassing her commitment of 14 km in 30 days.

Madison Dallywater raised over $1000 by swimming. Photo Karri Dallywater.

Captain Bloom  said of her cousin Madison and friend Ella, “It’s awesome kids are being kind to each other and raising money to help other kids who have cancer and other illnesses.” Acacia has grown up remembering Charlotte as a childhood friend of her older brother Zane (15).

Research, awareness, early diagnosis, fun and laughter is the key to treatment and recovery. C stands for cancer but it also stands for challenge, cure, celebration and children caring for children — the more invested in research and caring for sick kids, the more likely a positive outcome for all.