In May 2017, at five-years-old, Grace McPhee participated in Perth’s HBF Run for a Reason raising over $5,000 for scientific research to, in her words, “help the sick kids".
The pint-sized philanthropist was two years into treatment for acute lymphocytic leukaemia with tumours when she walked the circuit with a group of family and friends.
"Grace is incredibly empathetic,” said her mum, Catherine. “She sees less fortunate people and wants to help them. So, when she sees children at hospital worse off than herself, she sees them as the sick kids."
Read more: Grace's story
The money Grace raised went to The Kids’ Cancer Project, an independent national charity sporting the slogan “Science. Solutions. Survival”. Since 1993, it has funded medical research projects to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for children with many types of cancer.
Grace started Year 1 this year and will tackle the Run for a Reason course on 27 May in support of childhood cancer research. Having completed treatment, she no longer needs to be fed through a nasogastric tube and is a step closer to her goal to be ‘just like any other kids.
For the first time I’ll be taking Grace to school with a lunchbox,” said Catherine. “It will be filled with carrot, apple, buckwheat crackers, fava beans, along with dehydrated beetroot, sweet potato and zucchini.
“Her biggest challenge this year will be toileting,” said Catherine. “Side effects of chemo and the tumour which was on her pelvis have caused nerve damage making a task most of us take for granted difficult for Grace. However, with constant determination and a positive attitude she is making great progress.
Being able to watching her daughter blossom, grow and enjoy childhood activities is a privilege Catherine does not take lightly; many of Grace’s little friends remain in hospital while others have been lost to childhood cancer.
Col Reynolds OAM, founder of The Kids’ Cancer Project hasn’t had the chance to meet Grace in person yet, but he’s planning a visit to Perth in May 2018.
"Kids like Grace inspired me to start the charity,” Mr Reynolds said. “Her guts, determination and kind heart make me more determined than ever to never give up."
Research is the only way to improve treatments and survival for children with cancer. Government funding only stretches so far, so vital the community steps up. Together we can make a difference.