Mitchell always dreamed of being a pilot
but brain cancer stole that future and replaced it with the kind of pain, fear and anxiety that no child should have to experience.
When Mitchell's mum Janine heard the devastating news that her 11 year old son had brain cancer, she had one overwhelming response: "There's nothing I wouldn't do to save my child."
One of the most difficult times the family faced was when Mitchell was going into surgery. He was about to undergo a delicate, 5 ½ hour operation to remove his brain tumour, and the outcome was terrifyingly uncertain.
When Mitchell asked: "What's going to happen, mum?" Janine said, "Well, there's something inside your head that doesn't belong there, and we're going to get it out. You're going to have a sleep and you may not wake up. You may go to heaven and you'll be there with granddad."
Can you imagine having to say that to a child?
It's words like these that inspire us every day to push the boundaries of research, collect new data, unlock new cures, make breakthroughs in treatment, and advance early diagnosis tools.
Mitchell has a message for you:
"Between life and death, every donation means more research and more help for people in need."
With your gift today, the future looks brighter for children like Mitchell.
In the 1980s, the five-year relative survival rate for a person diagnosed with cancer was only 53%. Now it’s over 70%. But we won’t rest until the survival rate is 100% and no person suffers the pain and trauma that cancer brings.
Alarmingly, childhood cancer rates are on the rise. We don't know why.
"The Australian Childhood Cancer Registry (ACCR) is one of the best, largest and most comprehensive data banks of information about childhood cancer in the world," explains Professor Joanne Aitken, Cancer Council Queensland's General Manager of Research. "It allows us to form a complete picture of childhood cancer in Australia, including the types of cancer that children are getting, the survival rates for those cancers, and the long-term outcomes of treatments children undergo for those cancers."
This Christmas your gift will help us build on our understanding of childhood cancer in Australia. With your support we can gather more information, and give more options – and more hope – to families like Mitchell's.
Five years on, Mitchell lives with a range of long-term side-effects from treatment – fatigue, scoliosis, pituitary gland issues – and his dream of becoming a pilot is out of reach.
"When I had to finally tell him it's not possible for him to become a pilot... that was heart wrenching," Janine admits.
Of course the family are deeply grateful for Mitchell's remission. But, they live in fear every day. Will the cancer come back? Every six months, their anxiety turns to terror as they endure the trip to Brisbane for Mitchell's six-monthly check-ups.
"It's a constant churning of emotions. I'm always looking and always watching, because I don't know what will happen, but I know what can happen," says Janine. "We fought so hard to save our son. Now we just want him to live his best life, whatever that looks like."
When you give to research, your gift has an impact that changes peoples' lives beyond our imagination.
"I'm looking to the future. That's how I get through," Mitchell says,
"But lots of my friends didn't make it. They didn't get to get a driver's license or have a drink. They didn't get to turn 16 or 18. Some people haven't even had one year of life, and they die. So I wanted to say, between life and death, every donation means more research and more help for people in need – every dollar, every five cents, counts."