My name is Ryan Woodward, I am 19 and currently studying a Bachelor of Education/Bachelor of Arts on the Gold Coast with the dream of becoming a teacher. My involvement with CanTeen began in 2012, soon after my sister was diagnosed with cancer. Receiving a copy of CanTeen’s ‘Now What?’ booklet helped to give me idea of what my future held post-cancer. From there, I began to rely more on CanTeen’s support throughout and beyond my cancer journey.
I attended my first CanTeen camp as a shy twelve-year-old, it took me a few days to warm up to the idea of meeting new people, but I soon felt a sense of belonging in CanTeen. The camps become an oasis in the sea of turmoil. What I enjoyed most were the exciting opportunities to escape from home, whilst making new friends in similar situations and learning strategies for when everything became too much.
In late 2013, my sister went into remission and I began to pursue leadership within CanTeen as I wanted to make the experience of new members joining CanTeen even better. Working with other CanTeen leaders from across the country has helped me to develop my leadership skills and allowed me to realise the many ways that CanTeen helps young people living with cancer and given us all a passion for the organisation.
Overall, the friends I made in CanTeen became family, the strategies I learnt became invaluable, and the support I received was immeasurable.