Award for top volunteer
“They're 100 per cent behind me.”
Eilish Wilkes believes that without the help of her parents, Kathy and Pat, she wouldn't be where she is today.
They have backed every “crazy venture” Eilish, who has lived with a brain tumour since the age of three, has set her mind to.
So it was only fitting that when Eilish received the Volunteer of the Year award at Parliament for her work with young people with cancer recently, her dad was right beside her.
Eilish, 21, lives with a vision impairment caused by the brain tumour. The tumour was discovered after five long months and Eilish was diagnosed shortly before her third birthday. However this has not stopped her from maximising her life. She had her first book published, and was awarded the Youth Spirit Attitude award last year.
A significant achievement for Eilish comes from a combination of volunteering and helping to develop better care for adolescents and children with cancer. Knowing she and her writing have helped is a big success. The awards represent everything she's done to help other people, she says.
“It's exactly what I set out to do.” Eilish uses writing and crafting as her therapeutic escape. From a young age she has loved writing and crafting, progressing from painting to scrap booking, and now pottery. She loves listening to audiobooks and her inspiration to write started when she first discovered the author Beatrix Potter.
Eilish's first book Hospital Happenings, is centred around a child, on a hospital visit. Eilish wrote the book to help young children eliminate any fears of hospitals. Her second book will be about guide dogs. For her third she hopes to write about a young girl with cancer.
Eilish and her family moved to Taupo¯ from Auckland four months ago. With her guide dog, Loie, she's been amazed by the welcoming community.
Eilish feels that the new standards of care that she has helped developed will reflect the work put in.
She hopes that from now on doctors will respect concerns their patients have, and that through her, young people will be more aware and know the signs.
Eilish and Loie will be running the Auckland Marathon for Guide Dogs in October.
■ To donate, visit aucklandmarathon2017.everydayhero.com/nz/eilish-loie/wizard/share
WORKING FOR OTHERS: Taupo¯ woman Eilish Wilkes received a Volunteer of the Year award at Parliament for her work with young people living with cancer. She is pictured with her guide dog, Loie.