Can­cer doesn’t mean you can’t have fun

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - ANNE MATHER

TAS­MA­NIAN school­child­ren are be­ing taught the power of pos­i­tiv­ity, even when life throws some­thing as scary as can­cer at you.

Pup­peteers from Camp Qual­ity are tour­ing pri­mary schools to bring a healthy dose of laugh­ter to chil­dren whose lives have been touched by can­cer.

Pup­peteer El­leni Kara­gian­ni­dis said the pro­gram was vis­it­ing schools where a child might have been di­ag­nosed with can­cer or where an adult in a child’s life has had can­cer.

“Kids can have a lot of myths and pre­con­cep­tions, and we try to break them down,” she said.

Chil­dren are taught that “you can’t catch can­cer” and the side-ef­fects of chemo­ther­apy are ex­plained in sim­ple lan­guage.

Ms Kara­gian­ni­dis said the pup­pet show, which stars a girl be­ing treated for can­cer, was cre­ated to ad­dress the ex­clu­sion and bul­ly­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by some chil­dren.

“The rea­son the pup­pet show started was be­cause chil­dren would re­turn to school af­ter be­ing treated for can­cer and they would face bul­ly­ing,” she said.

Ms Kara­gian­ni­dis said the dis­ease could be very iso­lat­ing for chil­dren.

The pup­pets en­cour­age chil­dren to fight can­cer with the “su­per­hero” force of pos­i­tiv­ity.

“It’s not fun hav­ing can­cer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun,” they say.

The trav­el­ling pup­pet show went to chil­dren at Mount Carmel Col­lege in Sandy Bay on Fri­day.

Camilla Joyes, 7, and her brother Henry, 5, were among the de­lighted chil­dren in the au­di­ence.

Camilla has her own can­cer fight, af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with a tumour on the op­tic nerve.

Af­ter un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy treat­ment, the tumour stopped grow­ing and her con­di­tion has been sta­ble for the past two years.

Camilla said she liked to go to gym­nas­tics when she needed a dose of pos­i­tiv­ity.

“I do cart­wheels there,” she said.

The pup­peteers, from Mel­bourne, are tour­ing Tas­ma­nia twice this year - two weeks this month and an­other two weeks later in the year. The tour has been sup­ported by the Ricky Ponting Foun­da­tion.

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