My involvement with Canteen began in mid- 2012 shortly after my diagnosis with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Having received a brochure from the hospital social worker, my mum quickly signed me and my two brothers up. However, it wasn’t until my first camp later that year that I truly started to understand the significance of having an organisation like Canteen to support me. One of the most memorable moments from that first camp was sitting around the dining table one afternoon laughing about treatment rooms and side effects with other Canteen members. It was the first time I had really been able to connect with friends my age who truly understood what I had been dealing with.
In the weeks following my first camp, I learnt that my treatment hadn’t worked as well as expected. This realisation resulted in a lot of changes, including a new hospital, a new city, and a new doctor, along with an extra 12 months of intensive treatment. However, through all of these changes and bumps along the road, Canteen was there to offer support for me and my brothers with recreational days, camps and counselling.
Nowadays, I am cancer-free and studying a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in my home town of the Gold Coast, having graduated with Bachelor of Medical Science in 2017. I have continued my involvement with Canteen through the Youth Cancer Services, where I am able to help to improve cancer services by providing a voice for patients and their families.
This has allowed me to create meaning from my own cancer experience while instilling into me the importance of consumer representation and the effective improvement of health and support services.