After being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015, Jo Wallace had to find a way of explaining what that meant to seven-year-old Charlie, her youngest of three children. It was difficult to find age appropriate material to help Charlie understand what was happening to his mum.
After approaching Charlie’s teacher about the best way to talk about cancer, Jo turned to her gynaecological oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Dr Trevor Tejada-Berges, to help with the project. An educational unit on understanding cancer at Charlie’s school was quickly established, where the kids could ask questions to Dr Tejada-Berges and understand what it meant to have a loved one living with cancer.
After a school excursion to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and a more in-depth understanding of his mum’s experience, led by Dr Tejada-Berges, Charlie and his teacher organised a community fundraising event to support Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. The event, titled Breakfast of Champions, was a morning held at Charlie’s school where Charlie and two of his teachers shaved their heads to raise funds for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. “The kids were hugely involved in organizing the event. It was a really good community event.”
Breakfast of Champions raised an incredible $10,000 for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and established a rich sense of community and support for Jo and Charlie at the school. “Everyone just rallied around us. But it wasn’t just about us, there was just such an amazingly positive vibe in that morning that I can’t describe. I definitely felt the love.” For Jo, the most important part of the event was the support system that grew for Charlie throughout this difficult time,
“Having the community that surrounds my seven-year-old son everyday understand what he’s going through and be able to support him was just great. I’m grateful to Dr Tejada-Berges for helping to create a culture of understanding and compassion through education.”
Jo still visits Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for check-ups with Dr Tejada-Berges and feels like it is a place of real positivity and hope. “I think anyone that has even set foot in the front doors knows how fabulous it is. The team here is incredible.”
You can join Jo and Charlie Wallace and our inspiring community of supporters, contact Sara Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.