With COVID-19 keeping many Australians at home this winter, staying fit means getting creative.
Benchtops, bagged potatoes and even babies have become workout props. So it’s fitting that the new fundraising campaign for The Kids’ Cancer Project, Reps for Research, is all about exercising at home in a fun way.
Taking part in Reps for Research means doing 950 reps of exercise in one week. That’s one rep for every child who will be diagnosed with cancer in Australia this year. It might sound like a lot of sweaty work, but mums Kat Elliott and Alana Poorter are showing that it’s easy to do and can raise much-need money for cancer research.
“I’m not fit by any means but doing 950 is reps in one week is nothing compared to what kids, like my son, have gone through,” Kat says.
The Melbourne-based photographer and mum of three was motivated to do Reps for Research after watching her oldest child, Brayden, cope with six months of cancer treatment in hospital last year.
When Kat (center above) posted on social media about the weeklong challenge, her friend Alana (pictured far left and right) was inspired to sign up, too.
“I first met Kat when she took newborn photos of my two kids, but my husband went to school with her, so our family has known her for a long time,” Alana says. “We knew what her son had been through, so there were no second thoughts about doing Reps for Research.”
Brayden was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in June 2019, at the age of 8. Kat’s other sons Riley and Kody were 5-years and 7-months respectively at the time.
“When I took Brayden to our GP a year ago to get checked out, leukaemia hadn’t even crossed my mind – I thought he was anaemic,” Kat recalls. “Within 12 hours, he was in hospital and our world had turned upside down.”
Kat explains that while chemotherapy itself is hard (Brayden had four rounds), it’s ‘’all the other things’’ that make cancer so tough for a child and their family.
“For us, there was a lot of struggle with getting enough nutrients into Brayden. Side effects from chemo like mouth ulcers and mucositis made eating difficult, and he didn’t tolerate a nasal feeding tube,” she says.
Even though Brayden lost a lot of weight and struggled with being away from his normal life, Kat says his bravery was incredibly inspiring.
“As soon as he was out of hospital, he wanted to be doing things like basketball and footy again, just like he used to.”
Kat got to know about The Kids’ Cancer Project through the teddy bears that kept Brayden’s spirits up in hospital, “He just loved them,” she says.
And when Brayden trialled a new drug for treatment of first-time AML sufferers, which was successful for him, she saw the power of cancer research first-hand.
“So, when I read about Reps for Research, it was a no-brainer: The Kids’ Cancer Project had done so much for us that I wanted to give back,” she says.
Both Kat and Alana did Reps for Research in early June, and got their husbands in on the action, too.
“I was the official exerciser in the family, but my husband did most of the reps in the background – he’s very supportive,” Kat says. “My sons thought it was funny, but cool too.”
Her youngest son Kody even helped her out by being the ‘weight’ as she did dozens of squats.
Alana says that it was really easy to sign up through Everyday Hero and there’s even a workout guide to help you get in all 950 reps.
“After I signed up someone from The Kids’ Cancer Project called me and talked me through what I needed to do, which was really helpful.”
She says that posting videos of her workouts, rather than just words or a picture, were helpful in getting her network engaged.
Between them they’ve raised over $500 and hope that more parents are inspired to do the challenge and fund more cancer research.
“Every day of the challenge I thought about what kids with cancer and their families were going through, and how unfair it is,” says Alana. “I hope this can make a small difference.”
To sign up as a Reps for Research fundraiser yourself, visit kidscancerproject.org.au/event/repsforresearch.