At 17, Tate should have been swept up in the excitement of graduating high school and starting his adult life. Instead, during his first semester at university Tate was given the news no 17-year-old expects. He had cancer.
Tate was fit, strong and completely unaware that the pain he was feeling would lead to a life-changing diagnosis. ‘I was riding my skateboard, and I got struck with this pain. It was so bad.’
‘Mum rushed me to the hospital. They ran some tests on the spot and told me and Mum there and then that I had cancer.’
Tate’s cancer journey began in 2017. He had just graduated high school and was in his first semester of uni. Tate was an active 17-year-old and rode his skateboard to uni most days. ‘I lived close by and as I rode I kind of got struck with this pain and had to take a breather. Gradually the pain became more frequent as I was riding. The breathers became a bit more frequent.’
As Tate’s symptoms grew stronger he decided to speak to his mum who convinced him to go to their local GP. ‘I went to the GP to do some tests, and they told me they’d get the results back within one to two weeks.’ The next Friday, however, Tate was struck with a strong pain and his mum rushed him to emergency. ‘They ran some tests on the spot and then told us there and then that I had cancer.’
I was just scared. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of what is possible. I didn’t know what the chance of surviving was. I was too scared to ask mum if I was going to die.
Just five days later, Tate underwent surgery to remove his cancer. ‘It all happened very quickly. Looking back on it now, I didn’t realise just how quickly – being in shock had made it seem a lot longer.’
Tate and his family are excited to be part of 2019 Bandanna Day
Tate's sister reflecting on when Tate was going through treatment
Tate, his older sister and his younger brother
Tate is so thankful for the support of CanTeen
Tate’s mum was an incredible support throughout, but she couldn’t answer his questions about chemotherapy. Tate needed to talk to someone who understood – who’d been there. Someone who would know how it feels to be 17 with cancer. Thankfully, he had CanTeen.
‘My family, we didn’t have much experience with going through cancer, or any of that stuff. We were in a very unknown territory. We were all very frightened. Especially my mother and little brother and sister, they didn’t know what to expect. It was just a big shock.’
CanTeen helped to answer Tate’s questions and offered him counselling and the peer support that’s needed for a young person to be able to open up about their fears. ‘When I discovered how much support that CanTeen had to offer, it was very helpful, it became something essentially that I needed to get through each day.’
Tate is now in his final year of uni and plans on graduating next March. He dreams of moving to Brisbane and pursuing a career in the creative industry. But he doesn’t plan on leaving CanTeen behind. ‘They’ve definitely helped me get to the point of making sure I cherish everything more, and they’ve kind of opened my eyes to be where I am now and not take stuff for granted. I hold CanTeen as a very important part of my life.’