Josh Schwarz, National President and Chair of the MAC
I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia at ten years old, and still to this day live with it.
Thankfully I was lucky in that I was able to be prescribed a medicine that I could take to manage my cancer, I take it daily and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. This has the benefit of me not requiring a more traditional treatment which lets me live a normal and healthy life without the negative affects many of my peers see post treatment.
As soon as I could join Canteen I did and ever since my first event, I have been in love with it! I’ve been on many camps and programs. Programs are full of fun, support and life skills.
There are not very many places where I feel so loved and comfortable and have so many people able to empathise and offer true support and advice as on Canteen program – I have made so many lifelong friends.
I soon found myself taking up every opportunity that I could within Canteen and it was only a matter of a year before I found myself helping to plan programs and take on other leadership roles. I fell in love with leadership and watching the people around me develop and grow which fed my passion and desire to improve and learn and continue to grow.
This has flowed through both my Canteen journey and my personal life, I have been able to support my peers and help develop them, but I have also received many opportunities outside of Canteen because of the skills I have developed.
Twelve years on, I’m still discovering how cancer affects my life every day. Some days I might feel tired, down, sick or hopeless, but thanks to Canteen I know that I always have somewhere to turn. Every day when I wake up and I am thankful for who I am and how Canteen shaped and developed me.
Over the past few years I have been the state president for South Australia, and more recently served as the national representative of Canteen SA/NT currently. I currently have the privilege of being the National President of Canteen, and representing the voice of all my peers both Members and the wider youth community alike; all young people living with cancer. In this role I have a direct relationship with a group of young people from all over Australia, and with the national executive team, including the CEO and board, who all work together to make Canteen the best it can be, and more importantly make the lives of ALL young people affected by cancer better.
I am so glad that I can continue to be a part of Canteen and it’s empowerment of young people living with cancer and furthermore watch the growth of the next generation of great Australian leaders.