25 August 2017
When she was just a toddler, Kate Krelshem’s sister Lauren was diagnosed with leukaemia. The diagnosis changed her, and her family’s life forever.
“I can’t really remember a moment where I ‘first heard’ of cancer, however it was in primary school when I started understanding how cancer was effecting my sister and so many others and the types of side effects that came from treatment and medication.
When she was in year 2, Kate’s sisters cancer relapsed. She describes how the news made her feel ‘sick to her stomach.’
“I vividly remember hearing about my sister’s relapse and just feeling so overwhelmed and confused. I was watching my mum talking to someone on the phone in tears and instantly knew that something was wrong.”
“It was tough because I felt like everyone else knew what was going on and I was a bit left out. I didn’t really understand that being diagnosed with cancer again was possible so it was a mix of shock and confusion whilst being so upset watching my family crumble at the news.”
In the coming years, Kate’s family would support Lauren as she continued to undergo treatment. They moved to Sydney so she could receive a bone marrow transplant and Kate and her brother moved schools to be closer to her sister.
“She was starting her treatment before my year 3 camp, meaning I had to miss it. I thought it was so unfair that I couldn’t go and I had to leave all my friends and go to a new school so suddenly.
“I was angry because I struggled to understand why my sister had to get cancer. As with any new experience my family had to adjust, but we made it work and by the time Lauren was feeling better and looking healthier, I didn’t want to go home because I loved my new school and friends so much!”
Kate said the hardest part was having to watch someone so close to her go through so much pain and uncertainty.
“For a month when Lauren was in isolation only Mum and Dad were allowed in her hospital room. The way my brother and I spoke to her was through a phone hanging up against the window looking into her room. It’s so upsetting not even being able to stand in the same room as your sibling because you might be at risk of infection.”
“All the little moments where I watched my sister change into someone else because of cancer was crushing and it puts a strain on everyone else’s energy and lives because everything was out of our control. We just had to sit back, be there for her when things were tough and pray the doctors and Lauren didn’t stop fighting.”
At the age of 20 Lauren had her second relapse and underwent CAR T-cell therapy in Melbourne. Following the ground breaking treatment she was given the all clear last year.
Last year, Kate decided to give back to the cancer community that supported her and her family by volunteering on the 2016 Cancer Council SA Daffodil Day Campaign.
Through volunteering, Kate got a chance to see firsthand the work that Cancer Council SA does by meeting survivors and sharing their stories. Working closely with the media and marketing team, she filmed videos, met dedicated volunteers and learned how to pull an event like Daffodil Day together.
The experience provided Kate with invaluable work experience, which she has used in her new role leading the Relay for Life Concordia College Committee Media Crew. The team took photos at the Adelaide Central Relay for Life and created engaging content which helped to tell the event’s story.
Now in her final year at high school, the experience has given Kate the chance to realise her dream of working in media, whilst also telling the story of families like her own.
“It is such a joy being able to meet the many people who have been impacted by cancer, taking their photo and sharing their story.”
This Daffodil Day, Kate will dedicate a Daffodil to all the strong patients like her sister Lauren who have either fought cancer or are undergoing treatment, along with the families who have supported them.
“Everyone involved in a cancer journey is so strong no matter the outcome and that should never be forgotten.”
The money raised through Daffodil Day will fund Cancer Council SA’s vital research, public education and prevention campaigns along with support programs for people going through cancer and their families.
As one of the largest national fundraising events in the Southern Hemisphere, this year Cancer Council SA hopes to raise more than $450,000 locally and $5.5 million nationally on Daffodil Day.