the Lions Club of Clyde and Districts has donated $1500 to the Child Cancer Foundation and another $1500 to Chemo Crazies, a charity which gives ‘‘prescription packs’’ containing games to children undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Reporter Yvonne O’Hara talks to two families who have benefited from the foundation in the past.
When Sam O’Brien, of Alexandra, was 13 he thought he had a sporting injury, but it turned out to be cancer.
Now aged 20 and studying environmental management at the University of Otago, he has been in remission for more than five years.
He, sister Amy, parents Sue and Roger will always be grateful to the Child Cancer Foundation for the help and support they received during that time.
Mrs O’Brien, Sam and Amy accepted $1500 from the Lions Club of Clyde and Districts last week on behalf of the foundation.
Mrs O’Brien said that after the diagnosis in 2013, she and Sam flew to Christchurch Hospital, where he had his first chemotherapy treatment for osteosarcoma on Christmas Eve.
Amy and Mr O’Brien drove up the same day and the family spent Christmas Day with Sam in the hospital.
He spent about 11 months in hospital for the chemotherapy, although he did come home occasionally.
He also had surgery on his leg in March 2014.
His thigh bone from hip to knee joint was replaced with titanium and he was on crutches for a year.
‘‘It took a long time for him to walk unaided,’’ Mrs O’Brien said. ‘‘The Child Cancer Foundation was there for us from the very first, giving us support.’’
Sam said he finished his chemotherapy sessions in November 2014 and had checkup appointments, which were becoming further and further apart.
‘‘It has been five years, with nothing since then.’’
Amy, who was 11 then and is now studying English and maths at the University of Otago, said that time was ‘‘definitely different’’.
She had to see her brother going through the surgery and the treatment.
She also had support from foundation and attended a camp for siblings.
Club past president Anne Dougherty said the Lions club had intended to host a conference earlier this year, but lockdown prevented that.
The conference was called off three days before it was due to start.
Sponsors and businesses were asked if they wanted the goods they had donated for raffles and auction at the conference back, and most said no.
Convention project convener Lyn McCall said the club had continued with the raffles and auction with excellent support from sponsors, businesses and locals to raise the $3000.
Frans Du Plessis told his father Dewald recently, ‘‘I beat cancer so what can life throw at me?’’
‘‘Bring it on.’’
Mr Du Plessis said the 12-year-old had a great attitude to life, considering what he and the rest of the family had been through in the past four years.
‘‘He thinks on a different level than I do,’’ he said.
Frans was 7 when he was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia.
‘‘He had four years of chemotherapy and has had no treatment for a year, and no relapses so is doing really well.
‘‘My wife Nadia and I had to give him oral chemo at 7 every night for four years and now, at that time we often look at each other and think it is awesome we don’t need to do that.’’
Mr Du Plessis manages a 1000-cow dairy farm near Omakau and he and Nadia also have daughter Nia, who is now 15.
‘‘She had to grow up fast,’’ he said.
‘‘Nadia and Frans were in hospital in Christchurch for six months, and as it was only Nia and me at home and as I am on a dairy farm, I had to go out early, so we gave her a cellphone.
“Nia has been amazing and we are blessed to have them both.’’
He said Frans stopped growing while in treatment.
‘‘He has grown more in the past 12 months that he did in four years and is doing really well.’’
Mrs Du Plessis said her family had been supported by the Child Cancer Foundation.
‘‘[The foundation] plays a crucial part in supporting families living with a child cancer diagnosis,’’ she said.
‘‘They run support programmes that includes sibling camps, which was great for our daughter Nia as she made lifelong friends with other siblings going through the same struggles as her.’’
The foundation held weekends away for parents to meet and share with other parents who had children at different stages of treatment, she said.
It had also provided travel assistance to the family, who had to travel to Dunedin and Christchurch initially twice a week and then weekly.
‘‘I would also like to thank the local communities of Omakau and Alexandra, as they played a big part in supporting us as a family.
‘‘Sometimes the smallest things mean the most, like someone mowed my lawns while I was in Christchurch and when I got back home I sat down and had a wee cry.