My name is Gabrielle Vella and I am an offspring member from rural NSW, Tamworth. My dad, 2 brothers and I were definitely shaken when my mum was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2012. It seemed like something that wasn’t real, and I really wanted to wake up from this nightmare… but unfortunately it was my new life.
Upon the diagnosis, I joined CanTeen after my pastoral care officer at school gave me the ‘now what’ books and recommended it to me, being a 13 year old who had no idea what was going on. During the various surgeries, sessions of chemotherapy and radiation, CanTeen was there for me. Since the moment of first joining CanTeen until now, I have heavily utilised the services that have been on offer to me, from counselling to overnight programs around Australia – and for that, it has helped me grow and empowered me as a person and gain the support that I needed in times of distress.
Cancer is different in a young person’s world, but CanTeen helps you understand that, and has given me a light in a very dark tunnel.