Sam O'Toole, MAC Member for Hunter & Northern
Cancer is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My twin sister and I were only 18 months old when Mum was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer in 2000. Growing up with Mum going through all sorts of treatments and surgeries was so scary, and after so many years of it she seemed almost invincible.
When I joined CanTeen in 2010 I was so nervous, but when I went to my first program I immediately felt so loved and supported in every way. Mum passed away the next year in May 2011, and losing her has been the the most challenging and painful experience.
Through CanTeen I have learnt how to deal with my grief, and realise how I was feeling is completely okay. From then on I have been apart of any counselling services, overnight programs and other opportunities I could get my hands on. CanTeen is a place for hope, connection and resilience, and a place where people understand. Dealing with cancer is painful, confusing and hard, but it’s even harder going through it alone.
Getting involved with leadership in CanTeen has been amazing. Once I realised how we can help make a positive and meaningful impact in the lives of other young people impacted by cancer, my passion for leadership in CanTeen grew enormously. I’m so grateful for how much CanTeen has done for me and that it continues to help more and more young people every day.