Sunday, March 26, 2006

Kerre Woodham: Wee mites whose appeal belies the tragedy beneath

On Thursday I flew to Wellington for the launch of the Child Cancer Foundation Appeal week commercial. It's an animated cartoon, which is a first, featuring the voices of Mikey Havoc (he's the rabbit), Tem Morrison (he's the bull) and me - I'm Maggie the Morepork. I won't go into details, because I have no doubt you'll see it over the coming week. There are loads of charities and plenty of good causes, but when you're asked to help out children with cancer, there can only be one real answer.

It took less than an hour to record my part of the commercial, which was nothing, so I was glad to be given the opportunity to MC the launch of the ad.

There I met the children who have been the faces of the Child Cancer appeals over the past two years.

Lexi was the wee girl who danced last year, and Connor, an adorable, curly-haired moppet of a 4-year-old, is the star this year.

And stars these kids are. So are their families.

Every day they live with the monster of cancer as a menace in their home. Their lives are thrown into turmoil and never the same again.

There are the practical issues - how much time can you take off work? Who'll look after the other children when you have to take your baby in for hospital treatment? If you're on a tight budget, how do you afford the petrol, to drive to a city hospital, week in, week out?

And then there's the emotional devastation. How do you live with the terror that your child might not make it? How do you deliver your child up to health professionals who have to hurt her to help her? How do you endure the agony of watching your child in pain?

Every day, there are ordinary New Zealanders discovering just how extraordinary they can be when their child needs them. They discover limitless strength and an ability to cope that they never knew they had. It was a privilege meeting these families.

And making a donation to www.fightthemonster.org.nz (see link below) is a way of acknowledging their daily struggle.

When you meet a beautiful 4-year-old girl who's had a kidney removed, and endured ten weeks of intensive treatment and five months of chemo, when you've held a baby with leukaemia who has the smile of an angel and the eyes of a very old soul, then life gets some perspective.

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