Cancer does not take a Christmas break; chemo schedules do not pause for Santa nor does the illness that usually comes directly after treatment. For several Hunter families, this was the reality of Christmas day. Waking up to regular Christmas traditions at home was not an option and the day was spent inside the walls of John Hunter Hospital opening presents when symptoms allowed.
To lift the spirits of these amazing little superheroes, local organisation Fight for Connar, enlisted our help to provide Christmas gifts and hampers to a number of children fighting cancer, their siblings and families.
Fight for Connar is a Hunter based not for profit organisation who works directly with families who have terminally ill children to support them in filling the remaining part of their children’s lives with happy memories. As a banking customer and community rewards recipient we have formed a beautiful relationship with this wonderful organisation and several of our Hunter staff have been personally touched by the stories that come with each child who joins the fight for Connar family.
Monica the founder and president of Fight for Connar needed some extra support to hand out gifts over the Christmas period and I was only too happy to help. Across the morning I met three beautiful little girls who are all fighting incredibly hard. Each of them showing me that while cancer has taken so much from them all it has not taken their beautiful smiles or their love of the beautiful things in life.
Each of the hospital rooms I walked into had been miraculously transformed into incredible normal bedrooms, filled with bright colours, photos, sun catchers and countless craft projects. As Peta, Emily and Aahliyah told me about their hopes and dreams for just a few seconds I forgot that they were at that moment fighting for their futures. I spent the morning singing hits from The Greatest Showman, listening to fart jokes (yes girls like them too) and filling the hospital with glitter, sequins and stickers. As a former pre-school teacher and huge Art Attack fan I was definitely in my element.
Aahliyah had all the markings of a cheeky three-year-old and watching the joy she gained from opening her Beyond Bank gift bag was priceless. I heard all about Peta’s wish to show her dog Tildy in a dog show and I watched Emily move her foot for the first time by herself since October. An enormous achievement for a little girl who suffered 2 massive strokes during an operation to remove a 7cm brain tumour. I was quickly reminded as we made rainbows that it has been a long time since the girls have been able to enjoy something I take for granted. And I was forced to fight back tears as Emily begged to go home and I watched both her mother and her talk through a hope that is still a little out of reach at the moment.
I am so incredibly grateful to work for an organisation that allows me to get out in the community and participate in life-changing experiences like the one I had today. Today was officially the most rewarding day of my career to date but it also made me cry the most.
We have some big projects coming up with Fight for Connar in the new year, and we look forward to sharing the journey with you all. You can support Fight for Connar to continue their wonderful work by following them on Facebook, donating via their website or opening a community reward account and nominating them as the beneficiary.