Young can­cer sur­vivor knows how to help oth­ers

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Peo­ple flew half­way around the world to sup­port Priscilla John when she wasn’t very well.

And now the 5-year-old wants to help other chil­dren with can­cer af­ter be­com­ing a Child Can­cer Foun­da­tion Re­gional Am­bas­sador.

The Eller­slie young­ster was di­ag­nosed with a brain tumour two days af­ter her fourth birth­day.

Hos­pi­tal treat­ment wasn’t fun but play­ing at the foun­da­tion’s Family Place in Grafton was.

‘‘It didn’t feel that nice but I liked go­ing to the play­room. So I’m go­ing to tell peo­ple what it was like,’’ she says.

The bud­ding chef loves to try her skills in the play­room kitchen.

Hear­ing Priscilla’s di­ag­no­sis was sur­real, her mum Bensy Mathew says.

‘‘I just didn’t ex­pect it. I’m a doc­tor so I’m used to de­liv­er­ing this news to other peo­ple not go­ing through it my­self.

‘‘It adds an em­pa­thy and you look at things com­pletely dif­fer­ently now.’’

Dr Mathew first felt some­thing wasn’t right when she no­ticed Priscilla fall­ing a lot.

‘‘She had an ear in­fec­tion be­fore that so we thought it was that but I had my doubts.

‘‘We had a scan at 12am and dis­cov­ered there was a brain tumour.’’

Family and friends flew from as far as Bri­tain when they heard the news.

Priscilla has un­der­gone three brain surg­eries and col­lected 93 ‘‘beads of courage’’.

The beads are worn by thou­sands of chil­dren with can­cer to rep­re­sent the many treat­ments and pro­ce­dures they have en­dured.

It took a bit of time for Priscilla to bounce back af­ter her third surgery but her last scan was clear, Dr Mathew says.

Be­ing able to drop into the Child Can­cer Foun­da­tion Family Place has made a big dif­fer­ence to her and her daugh­ter.

‘‘When we go for fol­low-up MRI she does not like it but the fact that we can bring her back here af­ter makes her look for­ward to it.’’

The Child Can­cer Foun­da­tion will be fundrais­ing this month.

It aims to reach the $6 mil­lion it needs each year to con­tinue to sup­port chil­dren and their fam­i­lies

that are af­fected by child can­cer.

Play time: Child Can­cer Foun­da­tion Re­gional Am­bas­sador Priscilla John, 5, loves her time play­ing at the foun­da­tion’s Family Place.

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