Your world stops the moment you are told your child has cancer. You want nothing more than the doctor in front of you to tell you there is a cure. A wonder drug. Something that will free your child of the cluster of cells running amok in their body. Something that will take it all away.

But they don’t, and the world keeps turning. Instead, your world now involves pediatric oncologists, treatment protocols and managing what your child must endure: chemotherapy, surgery, stem cell transplants, radiation, immunotherapy. If these work your child may be one of the lucky ones.

Like everyone did under COVID, in the cancer club you live under a long list of restrictions. Treatment leaves your child immunosuppressed – catching a cold risks death. Don’t socialise with friends, or keep your distance if you do. Be careful at the shops, be especially careful at playgrounds. Forget about schools or childcare. Any sign of fever and you’re straight into hospital for 48 hours of IV antibiotics – pray they keep working.

Stephanie Dunstan with her daughter Saskia.

Stephanie Dunstan with her daughter Saskia.

This happened to me. My beautiful daughter, Saskia, was diagnosed at 22 months with stage four neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that starts in the adrenal glands and quickly spreads. Around 60 children a year are diagnosed in Australia. Their survival rate is 50 per cent.



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