Dino and friends: more than just cuddly bears

At just five years old, Mariette’s daughter Milan was diagnosed with a rare type of kidney cancer known as Wilms’ tumour.

At just five years old, Mariette’s daughter Milan was diagnosed with a rare type of kidney cancer known as Wilms’ tumour. With a difficult road ahead and smiles in short supply − comfort, hope and some new best friends were a welcome but unexpected arrival thanks to kind supporters like you.

Just like most parents, Mariette never prepared for the day her little girl was diagnosed with cancer. For Mariette and her partner, the uncertainty was unbearable and taking it day by day was their only option.

But for Milan, taking it day by day meant the end of being a normal five-year-old for the foreseeable future. Mariette says:

For Milan, growing up, making friends, and enjoying her childhood were out the window. Instead, it was replaced by the scary and very grown-up world of cancer treatments. After a complex operation to have her tumour removed, she went straight into an intense six-month cycle of chemotherapy − going through that is daunting for anyone, let alone a five-year-old.

It’s hard to explain to someone that young what’s happening, and so as a parent, you search for anything at all that can help soothe the pain and provide some happiness.

That happiness arrived in a rather unexpected way, thanks to the generosity of someone like you. Since 2009, kind donors to The Kids’ Cancer Project have gifted thousands of cuddly bears to sick kids at over 70 different hospitals across Australia. Mariette has seen firsthand the incredible difference they can make:

I still remember when Milan received her first bear in the hospital, and trust me, ‘Dino’ has been by her side ever since! I’d never even heard of The Kids’ Cancer Project before, and the next thing you know, she has a new best friend!

A cancer journey can be such a lonely time, but that one act of giving a cuddly bear showed me, my husband – and of course Milan – that people were rooting for her and that we weren’t alone. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

It’s easy to think they’re just cute teddies, but I promise you they’re so much more than that. Milan’s bears have been there for her through her toughest days. They’ve been her best friends, her cuddle buddies and have provided a vital distraction from treatments, as well as endless smiles during a time when happiness was very hard to come by.

Thankfully, Milan has now been given the green light and is cancer free, meaning she can return to the joy of childhood – but she’ll never forget her cuddly friends that were there for her during her most difficult days. Mariette says:

She’s named them all, and although she’s done with her treatment, they’re a reminder of the good times even when things are tough − they always gave her the biggest smile and always will.

It’s only with the generosity of people like you that kids facing cancer like Milan can have the warmth and comfort of a cuddly bear during their toughest days. Not only that, but by donating a bear you could be helping to save lives – the proceeds from each donation go directly to supporting vital childhood cancer research. That’s an incredibly powerful gift to give.

If you would like to donate a bear today, please click the link below.

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