happy fatherls day

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happy fatherls day
Inside
SEPTEMBER 2012
www.challenge.org.au
Diamonds & Pearls
Inside the Diamonds Dinner
My Story
life beyond
cancer
CELEBRATING OUR DADS
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY
PLUS: We chat to superstar dannii minogue
2
Challenge Fact File
ABOUT CHALLENGE…
Challenge is a not-for-profit organisation
that provides daily support for children and
families living with cancer from the time of
diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.
Page
20
il to n C a m p
S n oo ke re d a t H a m
Page
47
Editor
Jaime Clarke
The Leuk Saga
Mark Knight
Design
Spike Creative
132 Gwynne Street
Richmond, Victoria 3121
Ph: (03) 9427 9500
Cover Image
Baby Jack celebrates
Father’s Day with
dad Darren
Challenge Supporters:
We operate the Challenge Family Centre
where cancer patients and their families
can access an extensive range of nonmedical support services. The Centre is the
first of its kind in Australia providing such
services in a single location and underpins
everything we do.
Challenge also provides support
to kids undergoing treatment in
hospital with iPads, gaming consoles,
internet access, family activities and
celebrity visits as well as camps,
information seminars, tickets to
concerts and events, holiday
accommodation, parent retreats
and social activities, home help
and scholarship opportunities.
Kic k in g g o a ls
w
th e Bo m b e r s it h
Chief Executive Officer
David Rogers
Once the medical needs have been
addressed, the wellbeing of the
entire family, including siblings, is our
fundamental concern. Through our
programs and services, we aim to make
life easier as they deal with fighting
their illness.
All donations, advertising,
story contributions and
editorial enquiries
should be directed to
the Challenge Office on
(03) 9329 8474 or emailed
to [email protected]
The views, opinions and
advice expressed in this
magazine are those of the
authors and contributors,
and not necessarily those
of, or endorsed by, the
Challenge Committee.
All materials appearing in
this magazine remain the
property of Challenge and
are not to be reproduced
without the permission of
the Chief Executive Officer.
Inside Challenge
Our magazine is a great way to
keep children, families, volunteers
and members of the community
up-to-date on what’s happening
at Challenge. It provides us with
an opportunity to:
• Learn about each other
• Exchange information
• Share our experiences
• Develop friendships
• Keep our supporters and
the community informed about our programs
To Help
You can help Challenge in a variety of
ways. You can make a donation, volunteer
your time, donate goods and services,
or organise an auction item for our next
fundraising event. Your business can
also make a difference by incorporating
Challenge in any fundraising programs.
You can even help just by talking about
Challenge and by letting people know who
we are and what we do!
Donations to Challenge are tax deductible.
Whether it is a donation of two dollars or
twenty dollars, you can claim it on your tax.
Cheques should be made payable to
Challenge cancer support network
and sent to:
Challenge
529-535 King Street
West Melbourne, Victoria, 3003
Page
16
Bu c k s d r o
ps into th
e Slu m b e r
Pa r t y
3
Inside Challenge
Contents
What’s Inside?
Regulars
Camps
Parent Support
4 Bloke in Charge
20 Having a Blast at Hamilton Camp
40 Let’s Walk and Talk
5 Upcoming Challenge Events
25 Tale of Two Junior Camps
41 DUC Club Poker Night
6 Head2Head with Tom Gleisner
8 A Minute With… Dannii Minogue
42 Just for Mums...
Fundraising
9 Come and Play
30 Diamonds and Pearls
10 Hospital Happenings
32 Erin’s Special Day In May
33 Time of Your Life Ball 2012
Activity Days
34 Victorian Tank Services Golf Day
16 Staying up Late at the Slumber Party
35 Michaela’s 15 Minutes of Fame...
18 A Time to Be Brave
35 Team Callum
19 Wonderful Williamstown Boat Day
Services
43 A Mum’s Retreat...
Out in the Community
44 Making Waves in Melton
45 Teen Night at Galactic Circus
45 Let’s Celebrate!
46 Dancing with the Stars
47 Walking Onto the Ground with
My Beloved Bombers
36 Mellow Times at Melon’s Cottage
37 Taking Time Out at Trevor Barker House
38 Dreaming of Diamond Beach
39 Magical Music Therapy
Features
Page
Justin Amor has lived through
some of the worst that cancer
could throw at him and has
come out happy and healthy
on the other side. Read his
educational and inspiring
story of courage.
what’s inside
12
My Story
SEPTEMBER 2012
4
Bloke in Charge
As I look through the pages of this
magazine I reminisce about where
Challenge has come from and what
it is striving to achieve.
Behind the scenes a lot of work is going
into the new Challenge Family Centre,
trying to get like-minded people involved.
We hope in the next month to announce
some new services that we believe will
assist families and their extended family
and friends.
The new Playgroup facilities are
wonderful and the opportunity for
young children to attend a Playgroup
environment without worrying about
colds and other illnesses is tremendous.
There is no cost to attend Challenge
Playgroup and Sonia does an exceptional
job running two sessions a week. If you
are the parent of a patient or sibling aged
between 2 and 5 years (or a year either
side) we welcome you to attend. The city
Playgroup is held during school term on
Wednesday mornings from 10am until
12pm at Challenge and the Frankston
session is held on Friday mornings from
10am until 12pm.
While you are at the Challenge Family
Centre for Playgroup, why not make it
an extra special visit by having some
fun with Bec, our music therapist? Bec
has settled in well and would love to
introduce everyone to the myriad of
benefits that music therapy brings. Give
the office a call and book in a session.
You never know, we might produce
the next X-Factor winner! Speaking of
X-Factor stars, lucky Amy had the chance
to meet up with Johnny Ruffo at a taping
of Dancing with the Stars recently. You
can read her story on page 46.
We knew Amy liked Dancing
with the Stars because she had
written it on her profile sheet. The
importance of your profile sheets
can never be overstated and
knowing what you like helps us to
tailor our services to suit individual needs.
Throughout your journey your likes and
dislikes will change; make sure you keep
us updated so we can deliver the best
opportunities to you and your family.
Yvonne is waiting by the phone
for your call!
On page 12, you will read a remarkable
story about Justin Amor, who this year
is celebrating 20 years since his initial
diagnosis. After seeing the story of
Jarrod Lyle, Justin’s proud new wife
wanted to share his inspirational journey
and sent a photo of a happy and healthy
Justin by her side on their wedding day
earlier this year. We followed Justin up
so we could share his full story with you.
We’d love to hear the stories of other
Challenge members, and not only will
you be inspiring others, but you will also
offer hope to newly diagnosed families.
There are a number of other inspirational
stories throughout this edition, of people
who are helping us in one way or another.
In fact, Challenge only exists because
of people deciding to make a difference
– with camps, activities, or in raising
funds. My thanks must go to all of these
people, along with the many people who
have organised an event to help support
Challenge. To Jade Barr and her Team W
Committee, congratulations on your very
hard work and the success that came
from that. You can read more about their
Time of Your Life Ball on page 37.
One of the things that I am constantly
asked is how people can assist our
organisation. Often, some of the groups
and individuals who have supported
Challenge throughout much of the
organisation’s 30 years find it difficult
to continue their support, with many
changes taking place in their own lives.
The challenge for us then, is to find new
people and resources that will enable
us to continue delivering the camps,
activities and other support to our
members on a regular basis. Therefore,
if while reading Inside Challenge, you
feel that you or somebody that you
know may be in a position to assist in
any way, please let us know. Assistance
does not only need to come in the form
of monetary donations to Challenge
but people’s time, along with goods or
services are just as important, valuable
and are always appreciated.
Thank you once again to everyone
who has contributed to this edition of
Inside Challenge, and indeed those that
have contributed to make the stories
possible! I hope that if your football team
has made the Grand Final, they win, and
good luck to Challenge Patron Nathan
Buckley and his Collingwood Pies in their
finals campaign.
I hope you enjoy reading this magazine.
A lot of hard work has gone into putting
it together, and if you have any stories,
photos or other things you would like
to see in the next issue, please send
them in.
Until the next Challenge camp, event or
activity, please keep safe, stay happy and
I look forward to catching you and your
family soon.
David Rogers,
Chief Executive Officer
5
S e p te m b e r
Sat 6th
Retreat
Mums Relaxation
Sat 8th – Sun 9th
th Urban Camp
Sun 23rd – Fri 28
Sun 11th
Sun 7th
Challenge Ball
Movie Day – M
adagascar 3
Berwick Mum
s Lunch
Sat 13th – Su
n 14th Motor
bike Camp
Fri 19th
Ride 4 Kids
Fundraising Lu
ncheon
Sat 20th – Su
n 21st Mums
Relaxation Re
treat
Sun 21st
Ride 4 Kids
Motocross ev
ent
Sat 13th N o ve m b e r
Sat 10th Inside Challenge
O c t o be r
Morningto
n Mums Lunch
New Volun
teer Trainin
Fri 16th –
g
Mon 19th
Cops N K
ids Camp
Sun 25th
Walk and
Talk
(for bereav
ed families)
December
as Party
e Christm
Challeng
lf Day
llenby Go
Sat 1st Robert A
r
e
n
Din
and Gala
Mon 10th
p
Surf Cam
un 16th
S
–
th
4
Fri 1
REGULARS
SEPTEMBER 2012
6
Nykia Butler
Age: 11
School: Year 4 at
Corowa South Primary
Head 2 Head
Siblings
Rachael (17), Teagan (8), Nicholas (6)
and Mikayla (4)
Pets
We’ve got 2 dogs, a cat, a rabbit and
some fish.
Hobbies
I like to draw and write and play games.
Favourite Foods
Sausage rolls, pies and fruit.
When were you diagnosed?
April this year. I kept passing out,
getting dizzy and was lacking in energy.
They thought it was tonsillitis but then I had
more tests at the Armidale Hospital and they
said it was leukaemia. One of my friends
had leukaemia so I sort of knew what it was.
What happened next?
I went to the Children’s Hospital in Sydney
for more blood tests then they sent me to
the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
They said it was the best hospital in the
world. It’s also closer to home, just 3
hours away.
What’s been the hardest thing about
having treatment?
Being really tired at the end of the day but
not being able to fall asleep in the car.
How did you find out about Challenge?
Micka came round and told me about
it. The Slumber Party is my first
Challenge activity.
What advice would you give to someone
else about to start treatment?
Learn to entertain yourself. iPads are good.
And always think positive.
7
Inside Challenge
Head 2 Head
Siblings
My brother James who is 12.
Pets
I’m getting a guinea pig soon!
We had one before but it died.
Hobbies
I did hip-hop for a year and I plan to start
jazz dancing soon. I like watching TV,
especially Grey’s Anatomy and Glee.
Favourite Food
Lasagne. My Mum makes it best.
When did you first get sick?
March 2011. I lost vision in my left eye.
They thought it was inflammation of the
optic nerve but when the medicine didn’t
work I was sent to the Royal Children’s
Hospital. They told me I had osteosarcoma.
I had no idea what that meant at the time.
I was only 12!
What was it like having treatment?
I didn’t like it at first, missing a lot of school
and my friends. Luckily my friends were
able to come and visit. Trying to sleep while
you are feeling sick is not easy, and I hated
feeling stuck at hospital when I wanted to
be back home. I learned it was important to
stay on top of your medication so you don’t
feel sick.
How did you find out about Challenge?
Micka came round and explained what
Challenge did, gave us a form. We started
getting tickets to the football (I follow
St Kilda) but I was too sick to go on any
camps until the start of this year when
I went on the Waterskills Camp. It was
great to meet new people and try things
like surfing.
What advice would you give to someone
else about to start treatment?
Stay calm and don’t stress out over things,
feel good even though you have cancer and
it seems like no one else does, don’t feel
left out of what your friends are doing.
And stay on top of your medication!
M.J. (Mary-Jo)
Saliba
Age: 13
(turning 14 in November)
School: Year 8 at
Thomas Carr College
in Hoppers Crossing.
REGULARS
SEPTEMBER 2012
8
A Minute With...
Dannii Minogue
What’s your favourite show-biz memory?
DM: There are a few that come to mind...
Madonna let me use a backing track to
one of my favourite songs of hers, so that
I could do a ‘mash up’ with one of my
songs. She has never granted another artist
permission to do this, and she has been an
idol I have followed since I was a teenager.
Recently Justin Beiber was in Melbourne
for his promo tour and he came to perform
on my show, Australia’s Got Talent.
The whole studio was in security lockdown and everyone was overexcited…
even the fans that were waiting at the
gate who couldn’t even get in! During the
performance of his song, ‘If I Was Your
Boyfriend’ he jumped off the stage and ran
up to me, grabbed my hand and sang right
into my eyes. I guess just about every girl
in Australia would dream of a moment like
that. I turned bright red and didn’t know
where to look, but it was really fun.
Do you ever get nervous on live TV?
DM: No I never get nervous, I just love the
rush of adrenalin that live TV gives me. It is
always totally thrilling to know that anything
can happen…..and it usually does! I grew
up doing live TV when I was younger on
Young Talent Time. Back then all TV was
live, so there wasn’t a choice; and I think
that was a great training ground for me.
What’s your tip for singers aspiring to be
super stars?
DM: Just aspire to be the best singer, and if
you are great, you will become a superstar.
I find it strange that the new generation
want to be famous, or stars, rather than
choosing a profession. So much has
changed in just one generation!
Tell us about a couple of the things you
have done with Challenge?
DM: I have been lucky enough to visit
families in hospital, and attend cool events
like the sleepover at the Hilton. For me
family is everything, so I love meeting the
whole gang. Nobody gets through cancer
without a team of family and friends to
help them.
What’s the best thing about
being a mum?
DM: I love seeing this
little person evolve, and
there is nothing better
than when he says,
“I love you.”
What advice has your Mum given you
that you have never forgotten?
DM: I remember as a little girl mum would
say, “Be nice.” It is so simple, but doing
the smallest kind act for someone can really
change their day (or mine!). When I have
visited the hospital, all I am doing is saying
hello and being nice, and the effect it can
have can change someone’s whole day.
So I never forget this bit of advice. You can
never go wrong with this, only do good.
What do you do in your spare time?
(If you have any spare time, that is!)
DM: I love watching shows like Downton
Abbey and Got To Dance UK. I read when I
can. I love an autobiography and am starting
on one about a famous fashion icon called
Diana Vreeland. I find cooking relaxing and
I love cooking for family and friends. I buy
lots of cookbooks and try a new recipe
each week.
What’s the biggest challenge you
have overcome?
DM: I would say the biggest challenge for
me is acceptance of life. Sometimes things
have happened to me or my family that
make me think thoughts like, “Why?” It is
tough when there is not an answer, and it
doesn’t seem fair. When life doesn’t seem
fair, I have learnt not to fight against the tide
so to speak, and the more I have been able
to accept what is happening, I have been
able to make positive changes to overcome
or cope with the situation.
How do you keep in touch with
your fans?
DM: The fastest and most immediate way
is through social media. Twitter is instant,
I love blogging on my webpage www.
danniimiinogue.com and I’m old fashioned,
in that I adore ‘snail mail’... real post!
9
Inside Challenge
Come
and Play
Challenge Playgroup at the Challenge Family Centre has
resumed this term on a new day: Wednesday. We have
welcomed some new families who are enjoying participating
in this wonderful program. Our playgroup is not just for
patients, and we have families that attend specifically to
bring siblings who are under school age. The happy and
positive environment also has a ripple effect on the parents,
who enjoy meeting, having a chat and watching their children
play happily together.
Our Frankston playgroup also
operates every Friday at 39 Ebdale
Street Frankston.
What a joy for us to see the children
blossom and enjoy the value of ‘play’.
Play-doh is always a favourite with
our budding masterchefs, and the
creativity shines through in their
paintings. It is exciting to see their
friendships develop as they beam with
smiles when their friends arrive.
We have also been fortunate to
have Challenge volunteer Nicole
visit regularly to provide a drama,
music and movement session.
Nicole brought along her dragon to
take us on a mystical tale, complete
with costumes, songs and games.
We look forward to her next visit.
Birthday parties at play group are
also very special and did I mention
how fabulous the morning tea and
cappuccinos are?!!!
Please feel free to join us
on Wednesdays or Fridays
(during school terms) or call
the office on (03) 9329 8474 for
more information. We would
love to welcome you to
Challenge Playgroup.
SEPTEMBER 2012
REGULARS
We loved being caught up in
Olympic fever. The children took
pleasure and pride making gold
medals and Australian flags. We had
roller painting and balloon printing
in the mighty green and gold and our
future Olympians joined in our miniOlympics with our obstacle course
involving the mini trampoline, balance
beams, riding horses, and throwing
bean bags into the rings. The children
have also enjoyed taking on the role
of ‘Mr Wolf’ in ‘What’s the time
Mr Wolf?”. The sound of their
laughter is very infectious to all
parents and the Challenge staff.
10
Hospital Happenings
Not much has happened in hospital, it’s been pretty quiet really and Micka has been able to enjoy
a few months of long lunches and lots of coffees down at Zinc Café... yeah right!
tidying up those well chewed nails, and
we all give thanks for the beautiful
calming voice of Kerrie, who reads to
our kids every week.
We have brought back Trampoline
to the ward and the ice cream has
been devoured with much pleasure.
Our friends at Trampoline’s Brunswick
Street store kindly put together a great
range of flavours for our families to enjoy
and it doesn’t matter what time of day
we come in, it’s always popular, with not
a drop of ice cream left at the end!
The ward has been a buzz and as I write
this we are in the middle of Olympic fever.
Check out the article on the visit from the
Essendon footy players, who helped add
to the Olympic atmosphere when they
came in. We had many gold medallists
and new world marks set throughout
the fortnight with way too many highlights
for the highlight reel! It was a good
fortnight of activities organised and run by
Challenge and the Education Department.
I don’t say it lightly when I say thank
you to our regulars! Thank you to
Andrew Martin for continuing to
excite the palate with his delicious
cooking for our monthly Parent
Dinners, to Trang and Trading
Faces for relaxing the
mums and dads
as well as
Cooking activities have also been a popular
choice of late, with hundreds of cupcakes
being made and eaten in the last couple of
months. We were offered a challenge by
a nurse and both Mia and Bronwyn took
up this challenge. The challenge: create a
chicken cupcake. No, not a cupcake made
out of chicken, (that would just be wrong!),
but a cupcake that’s decorated to look like
a chicken. Sounds easy enough but the
execution of it was not as
easy as we thought. It was a lot of fun to
make though, and tasted pretty good too.
Challenge has also run a couple of very
successful parent afternoon teas too. They
are relaxed and a great chance to meet
some other parents from the ward. At the
very least it’s good to get out of the room
and have a change of scenery from the
four walls. While not many trusted Micka’s
coffee making skills, they all liked the
assortment of cakes on offer and in both
cases we had more than a dozen parents
come along for a chat. Thanks to everyone
for creating such a buzz and an enjoyable
afternoon tea.
If you would like to borrow an iPad
with full Internet access, PS3, Xbox 360
or just watch a movie, make sure you find
or ask for a Challenge person on
the ward and we’ll be sure to look
after you. We’ll always try our best to
make sure you aren’t bored and have
something to do.
11
Inside Challenge
Bombs
Away!
Challenge has been very fortunate throughout
the years to bring in a range of celebrities and
sports stars to visit the kids on the ward, with our
latest guests being some of the Essendon Football Club.
Ricky Dyson, Stewart Crameri and Brent
Stanton took a couple of hours out of
their busy training schedules to visit some
of our Bomber fans and stopped to test
their skills in one of our Olympic activities
along the way. While Stewart rose above
the rest, Brent and Ricky bombed out of
the competition, outshone by a couple
of our very own, well practised pint-sized
Olympians. The boys took defeat well
though, and were great sports.
Carlton fan Darcy gritted his teeth and was
very polite as the three Bombers entered
his room. Brooke on the other hand was
pleasantly surprised when they woke her
up from an afternoon nap, and greeted
them with open arms!
Thanks to Ricky, Stewart and Brent for
giving up their time to help make the kids’
afternoon a little more fun! Best of luck for
the rest of the year boys and keep those
hammys out of trouble…
REGULARS
SEPTEMBER 2012
12
My Story
Ke vin S h e e d y
w h il e I wa s inwa s a ll o w e d a q u ic k vis
it
is o ti o n fo ll
o w in g m y
b o n e m a r r ola
w tr a n s p la n t
By Justin Amor
It was 1992 and I was a healthy and active 8-year-old boy with my whole life ahead of me.
Little did I know that things were about to change and my life would never be the same again.
The initial signs that something was
wrong were three little lumps on the
side of my neck. My mum, who is a
nurse, initially picked them up. Mum was
concerned so she took me along to the
doctor and I think they initially thought it
was something glandular. The doctor sent
us away advising us to keep an eye on
the lumps and if there were any changes,
to come back and see him. Otherwise he
would see us in three months.
Mum and Dad said they didn’t feel they
could tell me at the time, so they got
our family doctor to come around to
our home and break the news to me.
Unfortunately he didn’t give me the
full story; simply that I’d be going down
to Melbourne for further tests. I knew
something was wrong because all of
mum and dad’s family and friends had
come around to visit the night before we
headed to Melbourne.
I’m not sure how long it was after that
first initial doctor’s appointment, but one
morning I woke up and the three lumps
had grown and formed into one big lump
on the side of my neck, about the size of
half an orange.
The next thing I can remember is
arriving at the oncology ward at the
Royal Children’s Hospital and seeing
a heap of bald kids hooked up to drips
and machines. I instantly knew this was
serious. The night I was admitted was
mum and dad’s wedding anniversary,
but they had totally forgotten about it
because of what was going on. The date
was the 7th September 1992, a day I will
never forget.
Straight away I was taken to the doctor
and he ordered for bloods to be taken.
As a result of the blood test I was booked
in for a lumpectomy to remove the lump
on my neck. They sent the tissue away
to be tested and found that I had a
cancer called Acute Lymphoblastic
Leukaemia (ALL).
ALL is a cancer of the white
blood cells.
I can still remember my first
lumbar puncture - I was so scared.
A lumbar puncture is
where you lie still while a
very small needle is inserted
between two bones of your
spine and a small amount
of spinal fluid is withdrawn
to check for cancer in your
central nervous system.
I think the biggest thing I was scared
of was the unknown. For me, not
knowing what was happening made me
really apprehensive and I remember just
holding my dad’s hand and squeezing
as hard as I could.
One of the nurses on the cancer ward tried to explain things to
me in terms that I might understand. He said that not all the
kids in the cancer ward had the same cancer; some had ALL
like me, some had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, etc. He said that each
cancer gets treated differently for each different person, so what
happens for one person will not necessarily happen for another
and the best thing I could do was to just focus on what was
happening to me.
13
Inside Challenge
Being from country Victoria, we were
fortunate to have Ronald McDonald
House as our home away from home
during the time I was being treated and
it was great to come “home” after the
three and a half hours it took to travel
from Horsham.
On days I was having treatment we
would arrive at the RCH, go straight in for
a full blood examination
Doctors do this to get a
total picture of how the
child is reacting to their
treatment and their illness.
and then go straight up stairs to wait
for the doctor to see us before having
chemotherapy treatment.
Some days were longer than others,
especially when I had to have a drip
or several treatments on the one day.
We would walk out of the hospital at
about 3pm, exhausted, and hop in the
car for the long drive home.
In 1994, after two years of chemo,
I was told that my treatment was
complete, but we would still need to
come back and have regular blood tests
to ensure the cancer hadn’t come back.
At least I wouldn’t have to have any
more lumber punctures or bone marrow
aspirates. Or so I thought…
For 18 months I was treatment-free.
Then I had a routine blood test,
which returned with some abnormalities.
A sense of dread instantly came over me
and all I could think about were the things
I would have to go through again - all the
needles, the blood tests, etc. In my head
I kept asking, why me? Why me?
Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs to kill or slow the growth
of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can stop cancer cells growing and
multiplying. Unfortunately whilst the drugs are harming the
abnormal cancer cells, they affect the healthy fast growing cells
such as hair cells and cells lining the mouth, which is why many
people experience hair loss and sore mouths during their chemo
treatment. However these cells can better repair the damage
caused by the chemotherapy and will reproduce quickly.
My worst nightmare had come true and
in January 1996 it was confirmed that I
had relapsed.
Relapse means that the
cancer has returned.
We started chemo straight away and
after a little while the doctors started
talking about the possibility of a
bone marrow transplant. The doctors
suggested that we should start testing
family members to see if there might
be a possible match. Unbelievably, both
my older brother and sister were perfect
matches and after some more testing it
was decided that my sister would be my
bone marrow donor.
A bone marrow transplant
(BMT) is where healthy
bone marrow is taken
from the hip of a known
or unknown donor and is
then transfused into the
patient, which looks a lot
like a blood transfusion.
A BMT is a lengthy and
isolating treatment
method that may involve
a long hospitalisation.
FEATURE
14
In 1997, after another year of chemo,
we began to prepare for the transplant.
In order to do this I had to go and
have radiation.
Radiation is when high
energy X-rays, gamma rays
or electrons are used to kill
cancer cells in a specific
part of the body. It is used
because it reaches areas
of the body that surgery
may not and often has
fewer side effects.
After the radiation treatment and
heavy doses of chemo to kill off my
own bone marrow “factory”, I was
isolated and received a bag of my
sister’s healthy bone marrow through
an intravenous drip.
After the transplant I had to remain in
isolation for about 10 months. I was
allowed to go home, but not allowed to
return to school due to my low immunity
so I missed most of Year 8, returning in
October 1997.
Cancer treatment kills
off good cells along with
bad, meaning the immune
system can be severely
compromised and infections
can be contracted much
more easily.
I wa s s o p
roud t
the Olymp o be chosen to run
with
ic torch in
2000
Considering all of this, I
still had a pretty regular childhood,
and didn’t miss out on too much. I still
played my sports (tennis, football and
basketball). I remember on two occasions
turning up to the Children’s for treatment
with a broken arm, and when the doctors
asked how it had happened and I told
them from football, I don’t think they
were too impressed!
Looking back now, my direction in
life really changed when I had the
opportunity to meet Jim Stynes at
a workshop. Jim asked us all some
questions, like “What do you want to
be remembered for?” and “What will
it say on your tombstone?” He asked
for people to come forward to the front
of the stage and to give their answers.
I remember that I suddenly felt an urge
to go forward and I said that I wanted
to be remembered for inspiring people.
He asked why I thought I inspired
people and I explained what I’d been
through. After this it was clear to me
that I wanted to help people and I
decided to pick up psychology in my
final years at school. After Year 12,
I was accepted into the Social Work
course at RMIT. I loved it, and it was
great to be surrounded by like-minded
people who all wanted to study and
work to make a difference.
Since finishing at University I have
worked as a social worker in many
different roles, including Youth Justice,
Drug and Alcohol Counselling and Youth
Homelessness. I have also spent some
time working with the aboriginal people in
Broome in Western Australia.
Other achievements since my illness that
I am really proud of are being chosen
to run with the Olympic Torch in 2000,
walking the Kokoda Track and raising
money and travelling across to Cambodia
to help build houses. I have also travelled
around Australia over a period of 15
months, and now I am coaching and
playing in a local football side.
With my two brothers and my sister
standing next to me in April 2012,
I married the girl of my dreams Louise,
who I had started dating in 2009. I am
so lucky to have found such a caring,
supportive and generous person to share
the rest of my life with.
Looking back at this amazing celebration,
and on my life as a whole, I couldn’t
be more proud of those who have been
by my side every step of the way.
My parents were simply amazing in
the way that they supported me and
I cannot ever thank them enough. Every
appointment, every needle, and every
blood test - they were there. I remember
the hours and hours of travel up and
down the highway, and I cannot imagine
how heartbreaking it would be to see
15
Inside Challenge
your own child have to go through so
much pain. I know for them, being able
to see me grow up and achieve so
much and to now get married, has
made it all worthwhile.
Since my transplant it hasn’t always
been smooth sailing. In 2010 I had
another setback, when I had to have
my lower lip removed because of a
squamous cell carcinoma (a form of
skin cancer). Sadly I also lost a couple
of friends I’d made while I was receiving
treatment and I continue to think about
them and their families every day.
The best thing I can do to honour their
memory is to live my life to the fullest.
I will never forget them.
This year marks the 20th anniversary
since I was first diagnosed and 15 years
since my bone marrow transplant. I look
forward to the next chapter of my life
with my wife, as we continue to strive
to make a difference in this world.
Justin’s wife Louise says:
“Hi, I just thought I would share with you a photo of our recent wedding.
My husband Justin Amor was first diagnosed with ALL in 1992 at age 8.
He underwent two years of chemotherapy at the Royal Children’s Hospital
in Melbourne (3.5 hours away), was in remission for 18 months after his
treatment, but then unfortunately he relapsed in 1996 at age 12. This saw
Justin undergo another year of chemotherapy at the Children’s before
undergoing a bone marrow transplant from his sister Gerlinda in 1997.
This year marks Justin’s 20th anniversary since he was first diagnosed and
15 years since his bone marrow transplant. In 2010 Justin also underwent
surgery (vermilionectomy) to remove his bottom lip due to skin cancer
(squamous cell carcinoma).
I met Justin in 2007 and we started dating in 2009. On our second
anniversary Justin proposed and we were married 6 months later (April) a dream wedding - perfect in every way. Justin still receives your magazine,
which we like to read through. Justin appreciated the support from
Challenge and Ronald McDonald House and speaks highly of the staff at the
hospital from his illness. Justin still regularly visits Melbourne for check-ups
and we have been actively involved in raising money for cancer.
Justin is who he is today because of the challenges he has overcome and
we hope to have a family of our own one day. Reading stories from people
who have been in Justin’s situation and have since had children brings us
hope. The story featured on Jarrod Lyle in the last edition truly touched our
hearts, as Justin was a joint winner of the Young Person’s Endeavour Award
through Ronald McDonald House in 2000 with Jarrod.
Justin is now a social worker, assisting those who are in need. He has
walked Kokoda, built huts in Cambodia, travelled around Australia by
himself and coaches a local football team. He is an amazing man.
We just wanted to share with you the happiest day of our lives with you.
SEPTEMBER 2012
FEATURE
One of the amazing things about coming
from a small rural town is the community
support that you receive. It would come
in the form of casseroles left on the
kitchen bench, petrol accounts set up
to help with the cost of travelling down
for treatment, and close family friends
even organised a tennis tournament to
help raise money to support us. We had
so many people from our community
come together to help, and their constant
prayers and well wishes gave me the
strength to overcome my battle with
cancer. Again, this is something I will
never forget.
A p r il 2 0 12
y
a
d
g
in
Our wedd
16
Staying up
Late at the Slumber Party
By Briony O’Riley
When we went to the Challenge Slumber Party and stayed at the Hilton Hotel for the night,
we walked in to see a huge Games Room, a Movie Room and a Sleeping Room. In the Games
Room there was a Photobooth where we could jump in with our friends and it would spit out
some photos of us making silly faces, racing machines, a dance machine, air hockey tables,
pool tables, pinball machines, a jumping castle and video games like Guitar Hero
on Nintendo Wii – awesome!
17
Inside Challenge
Sl e epy ? Not me! !
In the Movie Room they would be
playing movies all night that we could
go and watch if we wanted. I watched
‘Puss in Boots’, ‘The Muppets’,
‘Journey to the Mysterious Island’
and ‘Tin Tin’.
Hi guys,
From,
Kim
We had heaps of food when we first
arrived and we could choose from
things like chips, wedges, hot dogs,
spring rolls and bread and there was
even cake for dessert. After dinner,
out in the foyer we could get our
faces painted or get a henna tattoo.
Everyone started getting really
excited at one point in the night,
both boys and girls. Then I realised
why – Collingwood Coach Nathan
Buckley and Dannii Minogue
from Australia’s Got Talent
had arrived! We all got to have
photos taken if we wanted and
some people asked them to
sign their shirts or drink bottles.
They were both really nice.
There were two big rooms
where we slept and the under
10’s went to bed at about
midnight. Any kids who were
over 10 (and a few under-10’s
who escaped being noticed!)
didn’t have to go to bed and I
stayed up ALL NIGHT, having fun
until the morning when it was
time to get picked up.
I went home and had a big sleep!!
Thanks Challenge.
ACTIVITY DAYS
Thank you so much for
taking such good care
of Jade and giving her
a wonderful time at the
Slumber Party last night/
this morning. She had an
awesome time.
There were also board games and
card games, and a magician called
Crazy Pete was wandering around
doing some cool tricks.
18
A Time
to Be Brave!
Sometimes it takes a lot of energy, will and determination
to be brave. Not this time though, as our friends at Greater
Union Cinemas in Russell Street hosted another Challenge
Movie Day, screening Pixar’s latest amazing movie, “Brave”.
More than two hundred Challenge
members left their warm and cosy beds
on a chilly Sunday morning and headed
into the city to watch the movie with their
families, enjoying popcorn and a drink
along the way.
No one was disappointed with what they
saw. Despite a few scary moments with
a very large and angry bear, Princess
Merida and her three troublesome little
brothers saved the day and made sure
everyone left with smiles on their faces
- even if they didn’t understand a word
those Scottish characters said!
A big thank you to Christina and her staff
at Greater Union for allowing Challenge
to hold another wonderful day for our
families, in their very own exclusive,
“safe” cinema. What a way to finish off
the school holidays!
Dear Challenge,
Thank you so much for a
great day out with my little
Allegra. It was her first
cinema experience and we
both had a fabulous time.
Love,
Jacqui
Hey guys,
I just want to thank you
for a great day out on
Sunday. It was awesome
to take Thomas out to his
first cinema experience!
The kids loved it and it
was nice seeing so many
familiar faces there.
From,
Liz
Hi there,
Thank you soooo much
Challenge for another
awesome family day out.
We all had a ball catching
up with friends and
seeing a fantastic movie.
What a great end to the
school holidays!
Kim
19
Inside Challenge
Wonderful
Williamstown
Boat Day
By Karen Hart
On a lovely Saturday morning, we headed off to
Williamstown for the Williamstown Boat Day with
Challenge. My son Ryan is four and has A.L.L, while his
younger sister Eloise is two. They were both looking forward
to having a fun day out with the pirates.
The weather was just perfect for
a sail out on the bay. We found the
kids, and not long after, the pirates
arrived, so we had a front row seat
to the ensuing water bomb fight.
Unfortunately, the kids decided to turn
their efforts to bombing our boat as
well, so we had to duck back inside to
avoid getting wet! The pirates finally
gave in and the “treasure” was
handed over, much to the delight of
all the children.
Once again, Challenge put on a
fabulous day with the help of some
wonderful volunteers. The kids loved
being able to chase the pirates and steal
their treasure, while for us parents,
it was lovely to be able to have a day
out and chat to others in the same
situation. Thanks again Challenge, we’ll
definitely be keen to go again next year.
Challenge would like to thank Mick
Trezise and his crew at Williamstown
Charters, for organising yet another
incredible day out for our families.
To everyone involved in putting the day
together, we can’t thank you enough.
ACTIVITY DAYS
When we arrived, we were greeted by
the Challenge team and then the kids
headed off with their dad Chris
to board the boat that was full
of kids on a mission to find
pirates. I left in style a little
while later with some other
parents on a very luxurious
boat to watch what the kids
were up to from afar.
When we got back to the yacht club,
there was a wonderful BBQ lunch
awaiting us. All the volunteers did
a fabulous job and the band played
some great music to listen to while we
were eating. The kids loved having the
jumping castle there to run off a bit
more steam and as always,
the face painters did a terrific job,
turning Ryan into a lion, and Eloise
into a tiger.
SEPTEMBER 2012
20
Having a Blast
at Hamilton Camp
Hi my name is Jordan and I attended Hamilton Camp 2012.
This was my first camp EVER and
I was really scared about being away
from my family. Once I got on the bus
though, I was fine. We had a really
long bus trip but nothing that lots of
stops and yummy snacks couldn’t fix!
When we arrived at Hamilton College
we met Gavan, who had planned the
whole camp, and we got to choose
our rooms. I shared with three other
boys and made friends easier than I
thought. We all made up nicknames for
each other - I got Jordy!
The next day, we hopped in our mini
buses and ate a huge breakfast back
at the Hamilton Lions Club before
heading out to a little town called
Macarthur. In Macarthur we got to ride
in Cobb and Co horse and cart rides
(which I got to drive!), pat cute little
puppies, play heaps of different ball
games and see some really cool caves
at Mt Eccles, where the guide played
a trick on us and pretended there was
a ghost living in the cave. But we
weren’t fooled!
After Macarthur, we went to the
Hamilton Aerodrome for joy flights!
Some leaders looked a bit green after
they had a go but I was fine. After
whizzing around the skies of Hamilton,
we headed to the Hamilton Bowls Club
where we were taught how to bowl
and also played lots of games like pool
and table tennis. We then sat down to
a huuuuuge homemade dinner that
was delicious!
That night the leaders
had to tell us to
‘zip it’ quite a few
times because
there were new
friends to talk to and the day to go over
before we could close our eyes, but we
finally did and everyone slept really
well in our dorms.
On Saturday we divided into two
groups, with the bigger kids going off
for Go Kart rides and us younger ones
getting to drive speed boats and ride in
really cool Hot Rods. I think I’ll get one
when I grow up…
Once we met back up with the oldies,
we all drove a while out to a place
called Cavendish to find Ron and Jean
Lewis’ farm. There was a great spread
of delicious morning tea waiting for
21
Inside Challenge
Thank you so very much
to Challenge and everyone
involved with making
Hamilton Camp happen.
Jordan had an amazing
time and enjoyed meeting
other great kids.
You guys are amazing!
From,
Sarah
us, which we quickly devoured, before
watching a sheep being sheared and
checking out the farm dogs rounding
up the sheep. We even had a ride on
the top of a sheep truck, which was
really run! The funniest bit was when
one of the leaders Luke, tried to ride an
old bike to catch us and take photos.
I think he only got one shot before we
left him for dust!
After a great lunch at the playground
in the town of Cavendish, we went to
the Hamilton Aquatic Centre, where
everyone mucked around for hours in
the pool and I got some great photos
of shoulder-ride wrestling. I think the
leaders got pretty waterlogged with
that game…
After drying off, we headed back to the
airport for dinner (another big yummy
meal) and then some boot scooting.
One of the leaders Cathie, showed off
her dancing skills from the top of a
table, and she looked hilarious.
We also had a
girl play us some
music on her
guitar. She had
a really nice voice
and everyone liked
the fact that she played
songs we knew.
Then it was home for DVD’s
which didn’t work (nice one Klara!)
and then eventually bed. We were
pretty tired tonight; it had been a
big day!
Sunday, our last day, and it was
up early to pack up and get out to
Dunkeld where a BBQ breakfast was
waiting for us and there were bikies
everywhere! I picked a bike that I
thought looked the fastest and we
had an excellent ride through the
Grampians to Halls Gap, where my
bikie bought me an ice cream which
was really nice.
I decided to go back on a different
bike because some of the bikies didn’t
have kids on the way up, so it seemed
fairer. He gave me an awesome
bandanna that had been his and I
looked even cooler than I already do!
The ride ended in a park where we
ate lots of meat and ice cream
then said our goodbyes to the
Hamilton community, before
hitting the road one last time.
I was tired but still had plenty of talking to
do in the front seat of Klara’s van, where
I got to ride with another kid. We had fun
playing DJ’s and picking on Klara.
Before we knew it, we were home and
meeting back up with our mums and dads.
I had the best time of my life.
It was so nice to meet other kids who had
either been through what I have or who
were brothers or sisters of a patient. It
was nice to talk and hear what others had
to say.
Thank you to everyone who helped with
this trip, especially Gavan O’Donnell
and the Hamilton community. Thank
you also to Klara and all
the volunteers.
Thanks
Challenge.
CAMPS
SEPTEMBER 2012
22
Tale of Two Junior Camps
My First Camp
It was my first camp and we were all dropped off at Challenge
by our families on the Saturday morning. My volunteer was
named Jesse (Jesus) and he was very nice. After a stop at an
indoor play centre, we had a long bus ride to get to Mount
Eliza for Junior Camp to really start.
By Jacob Holmes
At camp, we all made our own
sandwiches for lunch and then we
unpacked our luggage in our cabins.
We went for a walk around the camp
and played tennis.
Then we did lots of other fun activities.
We got to see the farm animals and I
cuddled a rabbit and a guinea pig. I also
fed a baby goat. We all got to make
colourful sand pictures. Mine was a
dinosaur. I loved cooking. First I made
chocolate balls and next I decorated
cupcakes with icing and lollies.
Dear Challenge
Taylor and Georgia had a
blast at Junior Camp and
are still talking about the
weekend and about their
mermaid costumes!!
Thanks challenge!
Karen
During our circus skills session,
we played pyramids and practised being
acrobats. I also went on the flying fox
and we all loved jumping on the jumping
castle. We had nuggets for dinner and
yummy ice-cream for dessert. Then Fairy
Twinkletoes came and did a show with
her dog Rufus. We all slept very well that
night in our cabins!
The next morning after breakfast,
we played more tennis and jumped on
Hey guys,
Hi Challenge,
Thanks again for taking
Holly to Junior Camp;
she had a fantastic time.
Thank you so much
for such a great camp.
Both my girls had a ball.
Belinda
Laura
We had a BBQ lunch and some of the
parents came to have lunch and pick up
their kids. Then we packed our bags,
cleaned our cabins and were ready for the
bus trip home.
Hello Team Challenge
Our girls, Emily & Monique are converted camp goers. They had an absolutely
wonderful time in Mt Eliza and both started to fall asleep within the car on the
drive home.
Please pass our thanks to Marni for looking after our girls. Her natural ability
of getting on with our girls showed when only minutes into the trip home
(actually before we left the car park) there were tears and cried of
“we miss our friend Marni”. I think that says it all.
A big thank you also to Sonia and Micka for their continued support, and to the rest
of the volunteers for creating such a fun, safe and loving environment for our girls.
You all do a wonderful job, and we thank you very much for that support.
Kind regards,
Nick and Dee
We all had a great time and camp was
so much fun!! I really hope to go again
next year!
SEPTEMBER 2012
CAMPS
the jumping castle again. Then everyone
went into the hall where we did some
games in a big group, and then Klara gave
us all costumes!!! Mine is a Jack Sparrow
costume and it is so cool!! We all dressed
up in our new costumes and headed
down to get our faces painted. We spent
a couple of hours driving around in the
police and fire trucks with the sirens on –
it was heaps of fun!
Inside Challenge
23
24
My First
Volunteer Experience
By Jesus Ibarra
Since completing my training as a volunteer for Challenge, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the first
opportunity to participate in one of their events. I’ve always known Junior Camp would be the
right event for me as I wanted to work with kids and help to keep them entertained with all the
exciting activities planned for this event.
On the day of the camp I was excited,
anxious, and nervous. I didn’t know
what to expect and felt responsible
for making the experience as
amazing, fun and entertaining as
I possibly could.
When I met Jacob, my concerns
dissipated; he was open to talk,
friendly and enthusiastic.
We connected easily and soon we
were chatting and planning our
activities for the weekend ahead.
In that moment I was transported
to a different time and place - I felt
I was a kid again, and as a kid,
I was experiencing the same
enthusiasm and excitement about
sharing this time with my new friend.
On our arrival a whole heap of
activities were awaiting us; a jumping
castle, magic shows, cooking classes,
flying fox - everything was perfectly
set up to have a lot of fun and all in
just one place. We had a go at every
activity and in no time I was immersed
in a magical atmosphere full of happy
25
Inside Challenge
Tale of Two Junior Camps
Our names are Edie and Scarlett and we went on Junior Camp with Challenge.
We think that Challenge camps are
cool because some kids have been
really sick and get the chance to get
away from the hospital and have fun.
We got to meet lots of new people;
our carers were Irene and Lacey. They
helped us get to know lots of the other
kids as well.
Our favourite things we did at
camp were riding the flying fox and
going in the front of the police cars
and fire trucks and turning on the
irens and even the water hoses!
We always like going on camp because
it is so exciting and we get to do lots
of cool stuff we hardly ever get to do
like cooking lessons, the flying fox,
learning circus tricks, watching the
children running around, playing
games and enjoying every moment
with the other kids and the volunteers.
This was the best feeling and is when
I realised how lucky I was to be part
of this.
I had the opportunity to share little
moments with other kids and see
more of their personalities; listen to
their stories and feel closer to them.
Sometimes I felt I was talking to an
adult, and it was me who learned
clowns make funny balloons and
HEAPS of other cool stuff too.
Thanks for taking us on camp,
Challenge and we really hope we
get to go on more and more!
Edie and Scarlett Gales-Smith
many lessons just by listening and
watching them interact.
Junior Camp has been an
extraordinary experience and
surpassed every expectation I had.
I enjoyed the games, activities and
the contact with everyone around.
The assistance and support of
the leaders was exceptional, and
contributed to make this experience
a pleasant and enjoyable ride.
CAMPS
SEPTEMBER 2012
26
like - I
Tickle me all yothue plank!
will NOT walk
Ready to roar throug
the Grampians h
All revved up at
Hamilton Camp
Now where are those helpful
seven dwarfs?
Pyjama party
at the Hilton
Were we supposed to be
cooking or eating?!
The Bomber Brigade
27
bot
I’m a superhero - don’tch!
lun
for
me
calling
her
Who has the biggest smile?
Ripp ing it up on
Lake Ham ilton
ci ti ng th an
No th in g’s m or e stexad iu m w it h yo ur
ed
en te ri ng a pa ckdi
ng ne xt to yo u
an
st
he ro
Bucks had as much fu
Slumber Party as then at the
kids!
Jemma paints another
masterpiece at Playgroup
Even hospital seems magical
when Fairy Twinkletoes drops in
st ar Vi rg in a Ga y
Win ne rs an d Lo set rs
t wi th th e gi rl s
en jo ys a ni gh ouon
nn er
at th e Di am ds Di
28
Re ad y for bed at the
Slu mb er Pa rty - NOT!
The jew el in the cro wn
av e?
Who sa id I wa s Br
Flyi ng high at Ham ilton
Let me at those pesky pirates!
Wh en I gro w up I wan t
to be jus t like you
I drive myself to Playgroup
29
We love William stown
Boat Day!
Wh en Bom ber s dro p in…
t scared…
You really can’t beat a bacon
and egg breakky at camp
I’m not scared, I’m no
Have a yabba-da
bba-do time…
Eve n pri nce sse s can ha ve
fun on cam p!
Snookered at the
Slumber Party
Can I have one of thos e?
30
Diamonds and Pearls…
The 12th annual Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend Gala Dinner was held on a wintry
Thursday in June at Crown Palladium, tickets having sold out in a record 15 minutes!
Our guests oozed sophistication in
gorgeous frocks with a touch of
Diamonds and Pearls, in line with our
theme for the evening. A major highlight
was the breathtaking performance by
Mahalia Barnes who rocked the crowd
with River Deep, Mountain High (as
seen on the Grand Final of The Voice!)
and I am Woman.
Glamour gal Tottie Goldsmith was our
MC for the evening and did a wonderful
job steering guests through our jam
packed agenda!
Several Melbourne-based personalities
joined us for the evening, including
Melanie Vallejo and Virginia Gay
(Winners & Losers); Channel Nine’s
Jo Hall; Dani and Sophie (The Block)
and Sonia Marinelli (Nine News).
Out in the foyer, the pampering was in
full swing, with the ladies well looked
after with make-up, hair and nails
31
Inside Challenge
touched up by the wonderful ladies
from Napoleon,
Masci Hair and Spa and Martinis,
Manicures and Makeovers.
Between touch-ups, guests flocked to
the Tyrrell’s Champagne Bar to buy their
glass of bubbly, secure their gorgeous
“diamond” ring and go into the draw
to win the real thing – an exquisite
Diamond and Pearl ring and pendant set
valued at over $9,000.
With glass in hand, the ladies perused
the fantastic array of silent auction items
on offer, making bids on whatever items
caught their fancy along the way!
Social event business, iBare Giftware
held its own stand ‘Forest of Bling Bags’
selling funky cosmetic bags containing
a pair of Freshwater Pearl Earrings with
one lucky guest winning over $500
worth of Crystal and Pearl jewellery.
Back in the
Palladium,
the dance floor
(as usual!) was
the hottest spot to be,
as our great friends “Velvet
Corporation” brought out the best
dance moves in everyone…we have
never seen a group of women perform
the Bus Stop with such precision!
Halfway through the evening, the main
auction offered the chance for guests
to bid on some highly valuable items
and money-can’t-buy experiences.
This year’s main auction featured an
amazing selection, including a Vintage
Party Tram, including unlimited rides,
party food and more; four tickets for a
VIP Concert & Dining Experience at
Rochford Wines; a chance to enjoy
the most luxurious Gold Class cinema
experience with 17 friends, plus the
opportunity to watch the Executive Chef
at Crown and his stellar team of chefs
prepare a sublime meal for you and
a group of friends, with each course
matched with premium Tyrrell’s wines.
Of course, there’s a first time for
everything and Challenge would like to
acknowledge Ross Johnston, our first
ever male auctioneer at Diamonds!
The night would not have been the
success it was without a huge amount
of support from so many. Challenge
would like to thank our key sponsors
Bed Bath N’ Table, Crown, Staging
To Anna Higgins and the Women for
Challenge Committee, we couldn’t run
this event without your help.
Thanks also to our absolutely
sensational volunteers who worked so
tirelessly
during the day and on the night, many
of whom come back year after year to
help us. We can’t tell you how much
we appreciate your enthusiasm and
attention to detail in ensuring everything
goes smoothly. Each and every one of
you is valued by Challenge.
To our Challenge mums Lyn Curtis,
Kirsty Ellis and Bee Hansen for being
a part of our video presentation and
for allowing us to share your personal
stories - thank you.
And finally to all our guests! Thank you
for supporting Challenge by buying a
ticket and taking part in our fundraising
activities on the night. A sell-out event
such as this goes a long way to helping
Challenge deliver its programs and
services and do what we’re here to do
– help families living with cancer to see
the light at the end of the tunnel as they
battle their journeys head on.
SEPTEMBER 2012
FUNDRAISING
By the time Jacinta Halsall from
Melbourne Diamond Importers took
to the stage to draw the Tyrell’s
Champagne Bar raffle, all 1,500 guests
could barely breathe in anticipation
of hearing their name called out.
Congratulations to Val Neumann who
won the 22ct gold ring and pendant
set. We bet she’s had a wonderful time
showing it off to her friends and family!
Connections, Melbourne Diamond
Importers, Tyrrell’s Wines, Trading
Faces, Napoleon, Masci Hair and
Spa and iBare. Thanks also to all the
organisations and individuals who
donated a silent or main auction item
for the night. The funds raised from
these donations are a huge factor in the
success of the event, and bring smiles to
the faces of those who purchase them!
32
Erin’s
Special Day in May
The last Saturday in
May was a special day for
five-year-old Erin Toomey,
marking a huge milestone
in her young life: the end
of her two-and-a-half year
cancer treatment, having
been diagnosed with NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma at
the age of three.
Erin, her sister Chloe and parents Kathy
and Guy decided there was no better
way to commemorate such a spectacular
event than to hold ‘A Day in May’ at
Erin’s school on the following Monday,
in order to raise money for Challenge.
A Day in May is a fundraising campaign
run by Challenge where schools
nominate a convenient, and in this case,
celebratory, day in May where students
wear yellow and make a gold coin
donation to the Musical Moments Trust.
This Trust was established by Challenge
to give young people living with cancer
a chance to escape the
rigours of treatment but immersing
themselves in the moment of music.
And so it was that on this particular
Monday in May, Holy Trinity Primary School
was a sea of yellow, as 400 students and
their teachers dressed up and took part
in a range of fun activities, including a live
performance by the Victoria
Police Band!
An outstanding amount of money was
raised for the Musical Moments Trust,
to help fund opportunities for our
members such as; the provision of
a Music Therapist to visit a child’s home,
a child to attend a group music program
close to home, writing and recording
a song with a music teacher and group
music sessions with a Music Therapist
at the Challenge Family Centre.
Challenge would like to thank Holy Trinity
Primary School for their overwhelming
support of our Day in May campaign,
along with all the kindergartens and
schools across Victoria that took part.
Special thanks also to the Toomey Family
for sharing their amazing story with the
whole of Australian through media such
as “The Project”.
33
Inside Challenge
Time of
Your Life
Ball 2012
By Jade Barr
Team W, faced with the challenge of
presenting our fourth biennial ‘Time of Your
Life Ball’, was thrilled to secure the Fitzroy Town
Hall as the venue for this event. The grandeur of
the room created an amazing atmosphere that kicked
off a phenomenal evening. The culmination of months of
hard work and collective excitement, the sell-out event
was enjoyed by all who attended.
A special mention must go to the
phenomenal talent and quick wit of
‘Johnny Wonderpants’ who not only
performed on the evening, ensuring
that the dance floor was a constant
site of joy, but whose drummer, Nick
Farnell, agreed to dutifully perform
the Master of Ceremonies role and
did so with ease. The entertainment
was complimented by the culinary
masterpieces presented by Andrew
Martin and the team at Margate
Catering. Thank you to both of these
groups for their support, time and
skills, without which we would not
have experienced such success.
Likewise, it would be remiss not to
mention the corporate support we
received from Coca Cola and Lamana
in providing refreshments and fruit and
vegetables. Without such sponsorship
we would have been able to raise the
$23,500 we did. Thank you.
Team W cannot believe that 10 years
have passed since our original affiliation
with Challenge began. We are grateful
for the support Challenge has provided
us in our months, days and hours of
need and are extraordinarily proud that
we have been able to contribute over
$75,000 to such a great cause that offers
so much to those in dire need.
We hope that Challenge continues to
be able to give in whatever way it can,
however significant, to those who
need such great care during such difficult
times and who ask for so little. We
are proud of our association and wish
Challenge every success for its future.
FUNDRAISING
SEPTEMBER 2012
34
Victorian Tank Services Golf Day
With champion golfer Robert Allenby as
our International Patron and Jarrod Lyle
one of our Ambassadors, Challenge
really does have golf in its blood!
So it’s no surprise that many of the
fundraising events planned and held to
raise money for our organisation revolve
around this fantastic sport – so many
people love it!
We are always extremely grateful to
those willing to make such an effort
to help support Challenge and so we
were very excited when Victorian Tank
Services approached us about becoming
the major sponsor of our second charity
golf day at Kooringal Golf Club.
Victorian Tank Services is an
organisation that services the ISO Tank
Container industry, issuing cleanliness
certificates, witnessing statutory
testing of ISO tank containers and
auditing the loading of full containers.
From humble beginnings five years
ago, they have grown to now service
40 clients from all over Australia and
around the world and have plans to
expand interstate to satisfy increased
demands of the industry.
One of the things about charity golf days
is that the inaugural event is usually the
easiest, with lots of people keen to get
on board and support the day, but it can
become a little more difficult to get the
same level of assistance and enthusiasm
the second and third time around!
However, with the support of Tony and
Helen Barr and the PGA Trainees, the
second golf day at Kooringal this year
was another outstanding success.
Everyone involved had a wonderful
day, the weather was perfect and the
celebrities who attended gave the
paying guests an interesting opportunity
to meet them.
Most of you will have seen “Jason”
from the RACV doing some wacky
things on his TV commercials and
he certainly brought the “wacky” to
Kooringal Golf Club, as his golfing
prowess was extremely limited! Good
one Jason!!
The event was a huge success for
Challenge, raising in excess of $14,000
to further the programs and services
that we offer children and families.
To all the sponsors and supporters who
attended the day, our sincere thanks
and congratulations to the winners.
We look forward to hosting the
3rd Annual Kooringal Golf Day in
March 2013.
35
Inside Challenge
Michaela’s 15 Minutes of Fame…
Michaela Gunn. Her name says it all. Being an extremist at heart and a lover of all things
unique and bizarre, owning seven green tree frogs, four goldfish and an eastern bearded
dragon lizard, it was only natural for Michaela to shave her head at the daredevil stunt show
‘Nitro Circus’!
Michaela was diagnosed with stomach
cancer in 2010 and despite her difficult
journey, her colourful and confident
nature has continued to flourish. Her
self prescribed mentality is as simple as
‘you can either be down and depressed
and do nothing, or get on the roller
coaster of life and go along for the ride.
I’m not going to pity myself’.
Sadly, Michaela has lost many friends
to cancer throughout her treatment and
to honour these beautiful souls, she
decided to shave her head and raise
money for Challenge.
Michaela however, being anything but
boring, didn’t want to shave her head
Team Callum
This year we decided to fundraise
for Challenge by participating in the
Run Melbourne fun run on 17th July.
Our 6 year old Bailey was keen to
participate as well. He asked his
school mates, family and friends to
sponsor him so he could raise the
highest amount.
Before long we had over 30 family and
friends sign up with us in the 10km or
5km run. With the increase in numbers
to our team came an increase in funds
raised. Bailey achieved his goal, raising
Not only did Michaela get her 15
minutes of fame when the show
came to Melbourne, having her long
firey-red pigtails snipped off and the
footage posted on YouTube, but she
also got to hang out with the crew and
have dinner!
Well done, Michaela, and thank you so
much for supporting Challenge in this
fantastic way.
By the Fox Family
$1,900 personally and was often heard
telling someone that he was raising
money for ‘our Challenge families’.
We were thrilled with Team Callum’s
final fundraising result of over $7,000.
Our family and friends have again
shown us amazing support in helping
us to give back to Challenge.
We believe Challenge is invaluable to
the general wellbeing of a family unit
during the terrifying and tumultuous
time that we all deal with. The spirit
of the day proved just right for us to
remember our precious Callum and
his fight, as well as all the other
beautiful children, whether fighting,
resting or smiling and loving life.
FUNDRAISING
Challenge has supported
our family in so many
different ways since 2010
when our youngest son
Callum was diagnosed with
a malignant brain tumour.
in an ordinary manner. Naturally, she
organised for it to be done during a live
practice session for the ‘Nitro Circus’
show, by leading stunt woman Lyn-Z
Adams Hawkins Pastrana, among the
flying bikes and skateboards!
Thanks Challenge – you guys
are awesome!
SEPTEMBER 2012
36
Mellow Times at
Melon’s Cottage
By the Deeble Family
Melon’s Cottage at Lakes Entrance provided a wonderful,
relaxing and refreshing getaway for our family. In late July
we journeyed to the small coastal town in East Gippsland
and spent five nights at the cottage. After the 500km trip from
Ballarat, we were warmly welcomed by Jodie, who together
with her husband Pete, son Archie and the Lakes Entrance
community, has created a home away from home, complete
with everything you could possibly need for your stay.
From the cottage it is only a short walk
to a great playground for the kids and
a short drive to the centre of town.
We were lucky to enjoy some beautiful
winter days. A highlight of our trip was
a cruise on the Gippsland Lakes. Georgia,
five and Charlie, three loved seeing the
pelicans on the water, and we were all
thrilled to see seals sunning themselves
on the rocks and dolphins jumping the
waves. It was so nice just to sit back
and enjoy the warm sun and picturesque
views, and the kids loved buying a drink
and a killer python from the shop on
the boat!
There’s plenty to keep the family
occupied around Lakes Entrance. We
all had lots of fun with
a game of mini
golf on the
esplanade, and enjoyed the luxury of hot
chocolates on board a floating restaurant.
90 Mile Beach is beautiful. We enjoyed
walks on the beach and along the
boardwalk, and look forward to going
back in summer to spend lots of time
in the water and building sandcastles.
One day we drove just an hour from
Lakes Entrance to explore the Buchan
Caves. With a small group, a tour guide
took us into the Fairy Cave, 65 metres
underground. The age-old stalactites
and stalagmites were amazing. After
the tour we spent some time amongst
the beautiful grounds of the Buchan
Caves Reserve. The kids played on
the playground and we visited the
souvenir shop, where
fairy dust in their
favourite colours and an icecream were
the order of the day. We then decided
to travel a bit further north to the Little
River Falls at the Snowy River National
Park, which is well worth the drive. The
waterfall is spectacular (but bring coats if
you go in winter – it was pretty chilly!)
We had some delicious meals while
we were away including local seafood
that we cooked at the cottage.
The Lakes Entrance bugs, flake and
whiting tails were very yummy! We also
really enjoyed our meals at the Central
Hotel (and they cater very well for a
gluten-free diet).
Melon’s Cottage was a really homely
place to stay with lots of games, toys
and books to entertain the kids. We had
a fantastic time away and would like to
give thanks to Challenge and of course to
Jodie, Pete and Archie, and to everyone
that has so generously contributed to
Melon’s Cottage.
37
Inside Challenge
Taking
Time Out at
Trevor Barker House
By the Meers Family
Last year our precious Grace was in the midst of the intensive phase of chemo treatment
for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. With any cancer treatment there are many ups and
downs and like those before us we’ve rolled with the punches. By the time we passed the
half way mark we were starting to run out of emotional fuel to keep us focused on the next
six months ahead.
It was at this time that we decided to
book the Trevor Barker House six months
in advance. Not just to mark the end of
the intensive phase of treatment but
most importantly to give us something
to look forward to. When the chips were
down we would think of our holiday and
it raised our spirits.
When we were finally at the house we
were able to wander
over the road and go for walks along the
beach, breathe the fresh air and feel the
sun’s rays. Pure joy…
The kids were thrilled with an impressive
state of the art playground directly
opposite the Trevor Barker House.
Our kids made good use of the boogie
boards and there were squeals of delight
when they caught an awesome wave.
We are so grateful to Challenge for giving
us the opportunity to stay there.
I highly recommend it for some
wonderful rest and relaxation.
SEPTEMBER 2012
SERVICES
Personally I enjoyed the selection
of current mags to lose myself in.
Trips to the ice cream shop and a
day trip to Queenscliff to swim with
the dolphins were simply amazing. The
fridge and pantry were even
stocked with essentials, which seriously
gave me the warm and fuzzies!
38
Dreaming of
Diamond Beach…
By Sherryn Aggelis
Our family has been a member of Challenge for over four
years, since our daughter Jasmine was diagnosed with
leukaemia in December 2007.
Throughout the time Jasmine was
undergoing treatment there was never
really a good chance to get away and enjoy
a holiday together as a family. Unfortunately
Jasmine passed away in May 2011 without
us ever having taken that family holiday.
It had been almost a year
since she passed when
I received a phone
call from Micka to
see how we were
all travelling. He
mentioned that
Challenge has
an apartment for
families to use at
the Diamond Beach
Resort on the Gold
Coast, and that it might
be nice for us to get away
from it all and spend some
quality time together.
Hesitant at first, I took some time to think
about it as we were not sure if it would feel
“right” going on a holiday when Jasmine
was not with us anymore to enjoy it. In the
end we took up the opportunity to have
some time out and get away, and made
the decision that we were
going to enjoy ourselves
in honour of our
beautiful Jasmine,
as most of her
life was spent
in and out of
hospital.
We had the
best time at
the resort, and
the facilities
were fantastic. The
pool was great as
it was heated, so even
if the weather wasn’t really
hot the kids could still swim. The use of
the Challenge car during our time up there
was also a huge help. It was such a bonus
having our own transport to get to all the
theme parks and back without using buses
or taxis. The best thing was that the beach
was literally across the road, so every
morning we would go there for a little swim
or even a walk and a little paddle.
I would like to thank Challenge so much
for allowing us to use the apartment. Even
though Jasmine was not with us, it was
definitely a much needed break for all of us,
giving us time to reflect on how much we
miss our Jasmine, but also to remember to
live life for her.
39
Inside Challenge
Magical Music Therapy
The Challenge Music Therapy Program is now well established. Each week, Bec holds
sessions at Challenge House, as well as visiting families at home, and at the Ronald
McDonald and BMDI houses.
Kids have been singing, rapping,
writing songs, making video clips
and developing their skills on various
instruments, all of which are
enjoyed immensely.
Planning is underway for a six-week
songwriting group to begin in October,
We have had Rebecca the
music therapist visit us a
couple of times. She has
provided a real boost to
Elizabeth’s spirits
- Elizabeth says Rebecca is
awesome - and Elizabeth
just loves music. When
Rebecca visits, Elizabeth is
extra happy all day long
- she gets such a lift.
Rebecca is just lovely and
very obliging with the hand
gel and mask requirements
and the consideration to not
visit if Elizabeth is unwell.
I try not to be in Elizabeth’s
space when she has a visitor
(so she can have all the
attention that she deserves
after being in isolation since
November) and so for me,
it means I do some
creative self-expression, while developing
musical skills.
If you are interested in finding out more
information about the Challenge Music
Therapy Program or the pilot 6-week
songwriting group, please give us a call
at the office on 9329 8474.
housework that has been
neglected for months. It is
amazing what an hour hard
at it can do! So I win too.
I am extremely grateful to
those who have provided
the funding for this service.
Kind regards,
Caroline
services
Dear Challenge,
offering young people between 12
and 18 years of age the opportunity to
write a song together and record it at
a professional recording studio. Local
musicians will be involved, providing
mentoring and inspiration. The group
aims to bring together young people
with similar interests and encourage
40
Let’s Walk and Talk
The recent Walk and Talk
had our highest attendance
to date and an enthusiastic
group were ready and raring
to tackle the elements. We had
a range of families from first
time walkers, repeat offenders,
recently bereaved and some
who lost their child a number
of years ago.
For the first time we offered our families
a chance to take on the rigorous exercise
the ‘Tan’ can offer (keep up with Micka),
or the newly introduced short walk which
comprises of a leisurely stroll through
the gardens (Margaret being of an age
now where the shorter walk is more
enjoyable). Whatever walk was chosen,
it all concluded with a drink and snack
at the Observatory Café.
The Walk and Talk afternoons are an
opportunity for families who have lost
a child to cancer to come together with
others who understand what they are
going through. They can share feelings,
coping strategies, talk about their
children or the often difficult times
they experience in their lives, whilst
walking with others who share similar
circumstances. Or if a family prefers,
they talk about the footy, what they
are doing next weekend or things their
other children are doing. The walk is
very informal; you do it at your own
pace and discuss what you want and
how you want!
We encourage any families who have
lost a child to consider coming to our
next Walk and Talk on November 25th,
and join us for some fun, exercise and
refreshments before the Christmas
season is upon us.
If you would like more information
about the Walk and Talk and other
bereaved services we can offer your
family, please contact the office any
time. It is never easy to take that first
step, but before you know it, you will
be walking.
Hi guys,
Thanks for a very pleasant afternoon.
We enjoyed the “walk” and the “talk”.
Please also pass on our thanks to
Micka, Sonia and Margaret.
Until next time…
Regards,
Lyn and Steve
Morning Team,
We just wanted to pass on a quick
thanks to Micka, Sonia and Margaret
for facilitating a wonderful Walk &
Talk yesterday afternoon.
We were at first a little reluctant to
confront such raw emotions head on
with a group, but soon realised the
value of the afternoon.
Very well done and another great
effort for the team at Challenge.
Thanks again.
With Regards,
Matthew and Tracey
Bed Bath N’ Table
have enchanting bed linen &
decorator items
to make your child’s bedroom a
special place.
For store details
contact 88 888 100.
Bed Bath N’ Table is a proud supporter of Challenge Supporting kids with cancer
41
Inside Challenge
DUC Club
Poker Night
By Kevin Elliott
Bru no thou ght you had to have
your eyes clos ed to play a “blin d”!
Each year, Challenge holds a variety of activities
just for the fathers in the program, through the
DUC (Dad’s Ultimate Challenge) Club.
These activities are aimed at helping
dads to meet other dads who have
a child with cancer, but really they just
bring groups of guys together at
events they enjoy, like football and
rugby matches, golfing weekends,
bowling days and even the Grand Prix.
I have enjoyed all the DUC activities
I’ve been able to attend, but one of my
favourites is the annual DUC Club
Poker Night.
This year’s Poker Night was the third I
have attended and I always look forward
to the night, not because I am an expert
at poker - far from it - but because it’s a
great night to get together with a good
bunch of blokes.
I brought a mate along this year and he
had a fantastic night, finishing second.
There was plenty to eat and drink and
we watched Geelong and Carlton on
the big screen.
The first half of the night starts off
with everyone playing and you are able
to buy more gambling chips up until
intermission. After the break, things really
start to gather momentum, with people
starting to drop out of the game as the
bids start to increase. The final eight end
up on a table together to see who will
become the champion of the night, while
the last three players walk away with
prize money.
This year everyone walked away a winner
thanks to the supply of jocks and socks
donated by the Shane Warne Foundation.
To sum it all up another great night
organised by Challenge.
PARENT SUPPORT
SEPTEMBER 2012
42
Hi there,
Thank you for the great retreat for the Challenge mums! I’ve met
some beautiful women, and relaxed for the first time in a looong
time with people who just “get it”. It was exactly what I needed.
What an amazing gift you give us families, in so many ways!
Love,
Liz
Just for Mums…
Here at Challenge we strive to make the journey through cancer somewhat less of a struggle
for our children and families. As such, along with our extensive array of programs and activities
for the kids, we also offer services and weekend events to help ease the stress for mums,
through our Women for Challenge program.
While children receive much of
their treatment at city hospitals, it is
important for mums and dads to have
a support network they can turn to
when they are at home, particularly
in country areas. Nobody understands
quite what a parent is going through
better than another parent and so
Challenge organises brunches for
mums throughout the year in regional
areas such as Wangaratta, Bendigo
and Ballarat. Along with our annual
Mother’s Day and Christmas lunches,
these catch-ups give mums a rare
chance to meet with other mums
from their area and spend a few hours
relaxing and chatting in a casual and
non-threatening environment.
Relaxation Retreats are held each
month and allow mums to go on a
kind of “mum’s camp”, to relax and
recharge their batteries. Challenge
drives small groups of mums down to
the Trevor Barker House in Torquay to
spend a weekend surrounded by
wonderful women, great food,
pampering sessions, walks on the
beach and yes, more great food!
We work with home service companies,
Mecwa Redicare and Peninsula HouseKeeping to offer assistance to families
in getting some of their housework
completed when they have endured
long or multiple stays in hospital.
Having bathrooms cleaned and floors
mopped allows parents to enjoy time
spent as a family and alleviates the
need to worry about less important
tasks like washing the dishes.
If you would like further information
regarding any of these services
please call the Challenge office
on 9329 8474.
Hi guys,
Thank you so much for
the lovely weekend away
in Torquay. It was so
nice to talk to people
who understand.
From,
Angela
Dear Challenge,
I had such a great weekend away at the Mums Retreat.
Thank you again to Margaret for her efforts and to all the
lovely mums who I shared it with. For those who haven’t been,
the weekends are well worth it.
From,
Holly
43
Inside Challenge
A Mum’s Retreat…
By Liz Tsiakmakis
When I first received the invitation from Challenge for the mums’ weekend away at the
Trevor Barker House, I was really unsure about going. There was a part of me that was
really excited about the opportunity, but there was also a part of me that hesitated.
There were definite moments where we
all talked about our experiences but only
because we wanted to and it felt natural
to do it, and of course there were
moments where we got emotional
but you were in such a supportive and
understanding environment that it was not
overwhelming at all. But what I took away
more than anything was such an amazing
feeling of inspiration!
Being surrounded by these beautiful,
strong women made me realise how
strong I had been as well over the past
year, how far I had come and how much
more I could do. That feeling is priceless
in our situation.
Quite a few things were going through
my mind; I was naturally worried about
leaving Thomas. I hadn’t been away
from him since he was diagnosed last
year. Thomas had a really intense year of
treatment and had only recently gone into
maintenance and I have to admit that I felt
a little guilty that I wanted to get away.
But more than anything, I was worried
that going away for a weekend with a
group of mums all going through the same
thing as I was would open up a massive
can of emotional worms!
Another mum Sandra that I had met in the
hospital early on in our journey convinced
me to try and put my name down for the
same weekend that she was going on
and I’ll always be thankful to her for doing
that. We were driven up by Margaret who
works at Challenge and were all taken for
After our pampering session we all went
out to lunch. To be honest I was worried
it would be uncomfortable being with
women I didn’t really know, but it wasn’t
at all. It was like being with a group of my
girlfriends that I’d known for years…there
are just some situations in life that bond
you, and this felt like one of them.
We headed to the Trevor Barker House,
situated right across from the beach what a beautiful place! We spent the
rest of the weekend just relaxing, talking,
laughing and yes, there were some tears
but in a good way. Margaret served us up
a beautiful 3 course meal cooked by a chef
that night and we talked and talked and
laughed and just enjoyed ourselves with
a glass of wine and some yummy food!
But I have to say that more than anything
I was so inspired by Margaret what an amazing woman! She shared her
experiences with us in the most humble
of ways and the most POSITIVE! Without
even really saying anything she made me
realise that no matter what life throws at
me, I am strong enough to get through
it, strong enough to support my children
through whatever it is they may face on
this journey and beyond.
I’ve learnt a lot in this last year, some
good, some not good, and I’ll never be
the same after this but I wouldn’t want to
be. When Thomas’ journey of treatment
is complete then it will be my turn to give
back. How could I not? But for now I am
so grateful for organisations like Challenge,
that make moments of this journey
more bearable, that strengthen me as an
individual, and give opportunities for us to
spend time together as a family without
the main focus being cancer!
If you haven’t been on a weekend away
with Challenge yet and are not too sure
if you should, trust me and go for it!!
You will not regret it, the laughs, the tears,
the blissful relaxation….it’s everything you
need and deserve!
SEPTEMBER 2012
PARENT SUPPORT
Since Thomas had been diagnosed I felt
as though I was running on adrenaline,
and since he had gone into maintenance
and we were spending less time in
hospital I was starting to get more
emotional about what had happened to
my boy, about all we had been dealing
with as a family. I was petrified that this
weekend would be like going to a group
counselling session….How wrong I was!!
a beautiful pampering session at a day
spa….what a way to start the weekend!!
I could literally feel the tension and worry
just leaving me, being surrounded by
people who knew what it felt like to be
living on edge constantly that another
fever may strike and you’ll end up back
in hospital, who knew what it was like
to always put your family’s needs before
your own. I felt like I could actually allow
myself to relax around these women….
and I did!
44
Making
Waves
in Melton
With the weather Gods on our side, on a sunny day in the middle of a cold autumn spell, a handful
of families met a bunch of boat owners on the banks of the Melton Reservoir for the 2012 Melton Ski
Day. The plan was to ski, knee board, doughnut, and drive fast boats around for a massive day of
water-based fun times.
The day was an outstanding success
with the kids having a ball trying out new
skills and pushing themselves beyond
what they ever thought they could do.
The beaming smiles on faces were
enough to show the self satisfaction and
thrills that were experienced on the day.
The parents had a fantastic time in the fast
boats, feeling like a million bucks. The day
also proved a great chance to meet some
of the other Challenge families living in
and around the Melton area. It’s always
good to know there is understanding and
support just around the corner if you ever
need it!
After a busy morning on the water,
everyone got together for a well-earned
BBQ lunch, complete with oodles of food
and chocolate to follow; did someone
mention Easter was nigh…? And then it
was straight back out on the water for an
afternoon of more thrills, but this time,
with a newfound confidence, people got
a little cheeky - with doughnut wrestling
competitions, over-throwing and splashing
of unsuspecting parents.
All in all, it was a great first time event and
we hope for many, many more!
Challenge would like to thank the
Melton Runabout & Speedboat Club; the
generosity of so many of their members
in providing boats and equipment was
amazing; Melton Shire Council; Déjà Vu
Ski; Chris Dowd Photography and ASAP
Recruitment for helping on the day.
45
Sometimes it’s tough being a teenager. It can be even tougher
when you’re undergoing treatment for cancer and have the
added stress of maintaining friendships when you’re hardly
at school, the lack of a social life and losing your hair, not to
mention feeling pretty average much of the time.
Often it can help to meet and talk to others
around the same age, teenagers dealing
with similar issues, but this can be hard
when you’re in hospital surrounded by
babies and toddlers.
So Challenge decided to trial a Teen Night –
an activity exclusively for teenage patients
and siblings currently going through
the program.
In late June, Teen Night kicked off with
a bang, as 20 teenagers enjoyed a night
off from their parents and went nuts at
Galactic Circus! For many in the group it
was their first Challenge event, while for
others it was a great chance to rekindle
friendships formed at other activities.
The night started off with our volunteers
for the night, staff from Spike Creative,
getting to know all the kids and just as
importantly, making sure the kids got to
know each other so everyone felt like they
knew someone! Then it was enough of the
chat and straight into action.
Everyone tried their hand at a game of
bowling with mixed results. The bumpers
certainly got a work out and while there
were kids yelling out “Strike!” all over
the place, the lure of pies, sausage rolls,
chips and nuggets was equally as popular.
Competition wasn’t a focal point, more
the satisfaction of seeing pins fall down
at regular intervals for anyone in their
group. Two highlights however were the
Let’s Celebrate!
super smooth bowling skills of Khloe,
who bowled 4 strikes in as many balls
and James, who casually sat back in his
wheelchair the whole game and still scored
higher than most!
After a game of bowling everyone
spread themselves throughout Galactic
Circus, choosing their favourite games
to test their skill or simply to shoot as
many victims as they possibly could,
all in the name of fun of course. The
NBA game proved the most popular
with tickets pouring out of the machine
at a very rapid rate. Crown’s prize pool
plummeted as our talented kids drained
their ticket machines!
The night proved a great success and
at our next Teen Night we’d love to see
lots of new faces come along to meet
some other kids and of course have a
heap of fun!
By Jen Concilia
The children loved every minute of the
show and beamed for two hours as they
watched Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse,
the characters from Toy Story and
Josh’s personal favourites – the
Disney Villains – in a medley
of holidays, celebrations and festivals
from around the world. Just seeing
them both so happy really was a cause
for celebration!
It certainly was a magical experience
and I am grateful to Challenge for
providing us with the tickets and
allowing us to experience such a
wonderful night’s entertainment.
Thank you!
SEPTEMBER 2012
IN THE COMMUNITY
Our son Josh was diagnosed with leukaemia in January this year and to be honest there hasn’t
been a lot of jubilation and festivity since then. So it seemed a little ironic that we were off to
a Disney on Ice show, courtesy of Challenge, called “Let’s Celebrate!” However, on a wintry
Melbourne night Josh, his little sister Mia, and I were soon doing just that as we got caught up
in a spectacular party on ice, with all our dearest Disney friends!
Despite being in hospital just a week
earlier, and knowing that he would be
re-admitted within days, Josh was
feeling pretty well on the night and so
we grabbed the opportunity to venture
out and just be the normal family we
used to be, albeit with a much greater
appreciation for the ability to do so that
than we ever had before.
Inside Challenge
Teen Night at Galactic Circus
46
Dancing with the Stars
By Amy Fransen
I arrived at the Global Studios in South Melbourne on a cold Sunday night and was met by the
Chairman of Challenge, Tom Gleisner.
My mum had asked Challenge if it would
be possible for me to watch the filming
of Dancing with the Stars one week
because I love watching the show, and
Tom made it possible.
I was allowed to go back stage
and mum and dad came with me.
We met the hosts of Dancing with the
Stars, Daniel McPherson and Mel B,
from the Spice Girls and one of the
contestants, Johnny Ruffo!
I was so excited because I love watching
the show and especially the way Johnny
moves on the dance floor with his
partner Luda. And it was a real buzz to
see Mel B and Dan do an ad break take.
I had a great night and so did
Mum and Dad. Thank you so much
Challenge, and especially Tom,
for making this possible.
Margate Catering
The preferred caterer for all Challenge events and activities
For all your catering needs please contact Andrew Martin at
Margate Catering on 0430 474 735 or [email protected]
47
Inside Challenge
Walking Onto the Ground
with My Beloved Bombers
By Grace Howard
couple of players who weren’t playing that
night because of injury and they signed our
jumpers and were really nice. Then it was
time to line up against the wall and wait
for the players to come out before running
onto the ground. It was really hard to keep
us all still, especially the younger kids,
and lots of our family were leaning over to
watch us from the stands.
I was so excited when I
came home from school
and Mum told me that
Challenge had invited me
to run out onto the ground
at Etihad Stadium with the
players from the Essendon
Football Club.
There was a big group of kids and we all
walked down underneath the ground and
through the carpark into the player’s race
area. We were each given an Essendon
jumper that we could KEEP!! The players
came past and went onto the ground for
a quick warm up and when they came
past again on their way back inside, they
smiled at us. They were all so big!! While
we were waiting for the main
event, we met a
I was so excited when it was time to run
out onto the ground that I forgot to look
at which player came up beside me and
grabbed my hand! I do remember him
asking if I was nervous and I replied YES!
We walked onto the ground together and
then he ran through the banner with the
other players and us kids went back to the
race and then up to the stands to meet our
families. You couldn’t wipe the smiles from
our faces!
Thank you so much Challenge for this
opportunity, I will never forget it!
Go Bombers!!!!
Challenge are one in a million.
Thanks heaps.
IN THE COMMUNITY
I am a huge Essendon fan and when I was
having radiation and chemo treatment I
met Nathan Lovett Murray, who is my
favourite player. I never dreamed I would
some day get to run out onto the ground
with the whole team! I rang my Aunty Mel
straight away, as she was the one who
made me barrack for Essendon because
Dad loved Geelong. She came to watch
me run out.
It was an overwhelming night at the
football. Coming from the country we
don’t get to go to the footy much and
thank goodness Challenge gave Mum
the call and I jumped at the chance
to go! I left Mum and Dad and my
brothers and off I went to see the team.
SEPTEMBER 2012
48
Reflections and Thanks
Hi guys,
Sarah has not stopped talking about the
great time she had at Hamilton Camp!
Thanks and well done.
has been up too and of course being
invited on stage! The list went on and
on, and Emily was asleep in the car by
the time we got home.
Regards,
Jenny, Wayne and Sarah
To all the helpers, visitors, and of course
Sonia, for persuading us about how
much fun the girls would have, we thank
you very much. Even on coming home,
the girls did not want to take off their
jackets, so they were a real hit also.
To the team at Challenge,
After enjoying some lunch upon picking
up our two very excited but exhausted
twins, Emily and Monique from Junior
Camp, they have not stopped raving
about the wonderful time they had.
It will be the theme when they talk at
Share & Learn at school this week.
In the car on the way home, it started
with tears from both girls, and once
we calmed them down and wiped
the tears away, they both expressed
how they were already missing their
leader Rebecca. Without stating the
obvious, I think Rebecca captured their
imaginations and their hearts, and as
parents we could not ask for more,
so thank you Rebecca for taking care
of our girls. You’re a natural and they
were very lucky.
Then we got to hear about cooking,
the jumping castle, the animal farm,
the fire brigade visit, making play-dough,
the flying fox, dinner, the police visit,
their surprise costumes, and of course
the visit from their absolute favourite
fairy in Fairy Twinkletoes, with the
sneezing of doughnuts, what Rufus
It was the first camp our girls had been
on and hearing their stories, I know it
will not be the last camp they will attend
in years to come.
Thank you again, it will be a weekend
they will not forget.
Kind regards,
Nick, Dee, Emily & Monique
and volunteers for giving Bianca such
a fantastic experience at Junior Camp.
Cathie was a great leader for Bianca
and seemed to enjoy Bianca’s company
as much as Bianca enjoyed hers.
We really enjoyed coming down for
the BBQ today and Maxy told us he was
keen to join Bianca at camp next time!
It was lovely to have a break and know
Bianca was so well looked after.
Kind Regards,
Janine & Chris
Hi,
Thanks so much for organising
Hamilton Camp. Both Andrew and
Hannah enjoyed themselves immensely.
We are very blessed to have lovely
people like yourselves in our lives.
P.S. A further thank you from Dee and I,
as the weekend was like a mini camp for
us. We enjoyed a day’s shopping around
town (shoes for Dee of course), which
is something we had not done in a long
time, a lovely lunch, coffee, a movie at
home, dinner with just the two of us,
which we really enjoyed. We did actually
miss our girls jumping into bed with us
early Sunday morning as they always do,
but not that we will tell them that!
Thank you so much,
Michelle
Dear Challenge,
I just wanted to send a quick email to
thank all the wonderful Challenge staff
Kind regards to you all,
Mary
Dear Challenge,
Thanks once again for including
Robbie in your fantastic Hamilton Camp.
He had a ball, as I am sure all the kids
did. He was telling me about his new
friend, Will, and how he was able to talk
about Liam with him, which was nice
to hear.
49
Inside Challenge
Reflections and Thanks
Hey guys,
Alex had such a nice time at Hamilton
Camp, and she was still telling me all
about it today after school. You guys
do such amazing things with our kids,
and I can’t thank you enough. You ALL
deserve gold medals.
Take care and big hugs,
Lori
Dear Challenge,
I don’t know where to start...
Hi Challenge,
Thank you so much for the footy tickets;
we had a ball. And Carlton won!!
I have spoken to my camper and his
parents. I was so nervous but it all
worked out great. Ryan’s Mum and I
had a good chat and Ryan was so
excited that I called that he yelled
everything at me and I got to “see”
his favourite toys (even though I really
couldn’t see them!) Ryan had heaps to
tell me and talk about!
Thank you again,
Di, Ben and Sarah
I am pretty excited but a little nervous for
my first camp, so be kind to me please!
Catch you next Saturday!
Janelle
Thanks again and please, please
pass our thanks on to all of those
people involved in the camp – it has
given our whole family a huge lift
and filled us up with a proper feelgood feeling!
Dear Challenge,
I want to say a big thank you on
behalf of Lachlan for the Musical
Moment Scholarship. Thank you so
much. We hope one day we will be
able to give back for all the support
Challenge has given us, including the
holiday house in Torquay last year when
our family, in particular our two sons,
got to spent great bonding time with
one another and as a whole family
when we desperately needed break
after Lachlan’s long hospital stay
followed by two weeks in ICU.
Cheers,
Mike
Big thanks again,
Leila, Gordon, Lachlan and William
I don’t know quite how you managed
to fit so much in to those three days
as even this morning at breakfast there
was an announcement that they had
forgotten to tell me about the horse
and cart ride. What?!
Emily, my girlfriend Katrina and I
would like to thank you for a great
night at the Diamonds Dinner last
night. Also Katrina would like to
thank the staff in the Crown Palladium
kitchen for the delicious meal and
the kindness that was shown to her
because of her allergies.
Yours sincerely,
Helen
Hi Challenge Team,
I just wanted to let you know
how excited Grace is to be going
to Junior Camp next week. She
just spoke with Kerryn her camp
leader and she can’t wipe the smile
off her face!!
I can’t put into words how grateful
we are for the amazing work and
services that you provide, not only
to patients but to their families. Grace
has never once complained, shown
jealousy or resentment about the
attention that her brother has received
throughout his journey. I say that to
you so you can see how special she
feels to now experience something
SEPTEMBER 2012
Reflections & thanks
The boys did NOT stop talking about
Hamilton Camp until they went to
sleep last night. All I can say is that
there was a universal consensus that
the camp was the best one they had
ever been on.
Hi,
Just touching base as I got my letter for
camp today in the post - yay!
50
Reflections and Thanks
so different from her “normal” and
for us to see her beam with happiness
is really special.
Thank you. You have given our gorgeous
girl the best gift... and she hasn’t even
left yet!!!
Sarah, George, Jordan and Grace
Dear Challenge,
We, the whole family, went to the
Moonshadow Musical yesterday. It was
fantastic and we had the best seats in
the house.
Just a note to say thank you very much
for the tickets.
Kind regards,
Vera
Hey Guys,
Just wanted to say thank you for two
reasons; I had a wonderful night at the
Diamonds Dinner on Thursday night, and
my son Ryan has just been on his first
Junior Camp and had a fantastic time.
Dear Challenge,
Thanks so much for the tickets to the
football. We had a ball and it was a
great game.
GO CATS!!
From,
Nicole, Mark, Sarah, Patrick and William
Condolences
Challenge staff, families and
volunteers have been deeply
saddened by the loss of our muchloved members who have passed
away since the production of our last
magazine. We extend our deepest
sympathies to the families of these
children – our thoughts are with you.
Dear Challenge,
Thanks so much for Junior Camp!
James had a ball and once again was
taken care of so well! Camps like this
always seem to keep the memory of
Caleb alive! Just wish he was alive to
experience all of this!
Tom O’Hanlon
Now just crossing fingers and toes for
Bella to go on Urban…
Jade Dharmawardena
From,
Andrea
Jesse Barrow
Patrik Oakes
Brodyn Davis
Bailey Lang
Kylie Lopez
Kayden Beer
Giovanna Ienco
Fletcher Slater
You really are amazing Challenge, for
all things you do for families like ours.
Thank you so much!
Hi Challenge,
I would like to thank you for the
tickets to see “Annie”. I went to see
it yesterday with Mum, Dad, and my
sister Kristin and we had a great time.
We haven’t been out much since I got
sick, and for a few hours we got to forget
about the bad stuff and enjoy a musical.
From,
Karen
Thank you so much again,
Jessica
Tomas Jovic
Natasha Aroozoo
Marmaduke Henry-Waring
Asha Coles
Trent Clapham

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