Today is World Cancer Day, the global awareness day led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The theme for 2022-2024 is ‘Close the care gap’, and this year’s focus is on uniting our voices and taking action.
Every year, 1800 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer. That’s around five every day. Leukaemias are the most diagnosed cancers in children.
One of our campers, Agatha, was diagnosed with leukaemia at just four-years-old. She’d not been feeling her usual bubbly, excited self and had a rash all over her body. After several blood tests, the hospital told Agatha’s parents that she had cancer. It’s a memory they’ll never forget, especially as it happened at Christmas time.
What followed was nearly three years of harsh, intensive treatment. Agatha was on medication – up to 16 tablets a day – that affected her taste so she found it hard to keep her food down. She would often eat the same meal every day for weeks, as it was the only thing that tasted good. There was a period of six months where Agatha and Mum, Karen, were in hospital every single day.
Karen told us about the impact cancer had not just on her daughter but the whole family too. Agatha’s younger brother, Bacchus, was in full time childcare when he was a toddler because their parents were in and out of hospital with Agatha: “It’s something we’ll always feel guilty about, not being able to be there for him”.
“I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone”
Agatha’s treatment was successful and she’s now in remission. She’s a bright and smiley 11-year-old who loves telling us about her time at Over The Wall residential camp: “I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone”, said Agatha, “and at Over The Wall it was good to meet other people who knew the pain and how it feels”.
The whole family got to join in on the fun when they attended family camp: “that weekend gave us a lifetime of memories. When you’re lying in hospital, really poorly, it’s the memories that keep you going. That’s what Over The Wall did – it gave us things to think about that were happy”.
Head to World Cancer Day to find out more about the collective work happening across the world.