CJ's story

CJ is happily sitting on a picnic rug in a park, surrounded by TKCP bears.
CJ’s treatment journey was brightened by The Kids’ Cancer Project bears.

The reality of kids’ cancer treatment

When they told me CJ had cancer, it felt like the walls caved in. My whole world just ended.

- Chrizette, CJ's mum

The young mum from WA shares how her baby boy was just four months old when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumour that had grown around his spine.

CJ cuddling his Mum while receiving cancer treatment.

She explains how it’s nothing less than terrifying to see how much your child has to suffer in an attempt to survive this dreadful disease. Chrizette says:

He had spinal surgery where the surgeon removed as much of the cancer as he could.

CJ needed a catheter for five months after that, and lots of medication. They didn’t start chemo immediately as they thought they might have removed the entire mass, but then it came back.

When he was seven months old, CJ began the first of eight cycles of chemotherapy. He screamed when they put the port into his chest on the first day of the four-day treatment cycle.

Then they’d head home for a three-week break between each cycle, only to have to go through the entire experience again, seven more times over seven more months.

After chemo, cancer cells were still in his bone marrow, so he had six rounds of oral chemo. Chrizette says about the toxic side effects of treatment:

Towards the end of the first eight cycles he was really, really bad.

He was pale blue under his eyes, his nails were chipping, he had sores in his mouth.

- Chrizette, CJ's mum

He didn’t want to put anything in his mouth because it was so painful. And then the oral chemo gave him really dry skin, so he was just scratching all the time.

But that treatment meant Chrizette and her partner Callisto got to keep their little boy. CJ was recently declared cancer free.

The bear that made it bearable

While CJ’s treatment experience was awful there were a few bright moments, usually sparked by The Kids’ Cancer Project bears.

During the first cycle of chemo, nurses and doctors had a difficult time putting in the canula. CJ was extremely upset, screaming in pain, until a nurse presented him with a teddy bear donated by a supporter of The Kids’ Cancer Project. Chrizette continues:

When she gave him the bear, his little face just lit up...This first one was Pirate Bear, and he held the teddy over the port on his chest, as if it was protecting him.

He cuddled that bear for the entire cycle. After that, we took bears everywhere. It helped so much on the days he had to go to hospital, because he knew he might receive a new bear. It took some of the fear away, distracted him and made him feel protected.

A TKCP pirate bear keeps CJ company as he lies on a small hospital bed, receiving treatment.

The Kids’ Cancer Project Bear Program offers anybody the opportunity to donate teddies to seriously ill children in hospitals around Australia. Not only do the bears deliver happiness to children and their families, the proceeds also help to fund vital cancer research. It’s something that Chrizette is passionate about.

Why do I support research into kids’ cancer treatments? Because I want to know that one day there will be a treatment that doesn’t attack their immune system and steal their childhood away.