Charlotte & Sunny
Hi I’m Charlotte I was 13 years old when I ended up at the Qld Children’s Hospital in July 2019 with a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma.
It all started in my hometown Cairns, at my second home Cairns Basketball. While I attended every training session and game, I was experiencing severe pain in my left shoulder. This pain continued to get worse and Mum sought treatment from a sports massage therapist and then onto a physio. Basketball State Champs arrived and I managed to get through 1.5 games, but my arm just didn’t want to play the game. We organised an MRI appointment while we were in Mackay, the next day was when my life changed forever. Mum received a phone call from the Oncology team in Brisbane advising us to get on the next plane for further tests as they had discovered a tumour in my left humerus. First, we had to drive back to Cairns, throw a few clothing items into a suitcase and Mum and I left the next morning. To say we were both in shock and confused about the whole situation is an understatement.
After many tests, scans, x-rays and surgery. My diagnosis was confirmed of Osteosarcoma, this is a rare form of bone cancer. Those words really meant nothing to me; I didn’t really understand it all. What I did understand was that I had to be away from my home, my Dad, brother and puppy for 9 months or more and that hurt the most. I was told I was going to get sick, very sick and lose my hair, I will most likely start to experience tinnitus, I was told I could start a 2 week IVF cycle to preserve some eggs for later on in my life but that would delay my treatment, I was told that I would need to have surgery and that this surgery could possibly include amputation (thankfully this did not occur). What I did know was that I didn’t care about all of the above horrible things that were coming for me, I knew it wasn’t going to be fun but it was the only option to get myself back to doing the things I loved and I just wanted to be strong and healthy again and if that meant I had to get really sick first then that’s what I had to do.
Fast forward to 2021, I completed 6 cycles of chemotherapy plus major surgery on my shoulder and humerus and if I am completely honest, I felt like rubbish but also I feel very relieved to have got through that. I am now back at school full time and enjoying and being grateful for the simple things in my life. During my treatment Mum and I had lots of time to think and talk about way's that we could give back, to help others going through this journey.
It took Mum and I a little while to find certain products that I needed to make this chapter in my life that little bit easier, so we want to try and help other teenagers who are thrown this curveball in their lives. We would like to gift these young kids a gift pack filled with all of my essential items, things that I couldn’t have done without and hopefully this will help make their journey that little bit more comfortable.
In November 2019 I was allowed to go home for the first and only time for 6 days, it was amazing. I got to cuddle my dog, sleep in my bed, see my friends, however we then had to say Goodbye and we never had to do that last time. Coming back to Brisbane I had lost my fight, I was angry; I was hurting, I was sad. I didn’t want to be here anymore, I wanted to be home. I received a letter and a video message from one of my idols. It came to me when I needed it the most. Johnathan Thurston told me I had to “Stay in the Fight” and that’s what I did. This is when our gift packs came to life, we knew what we wanted to do but we did not have a name for it, so now the Stay in the FIGHT pamper pack is born.