Christmas should be all about spending quality time with family and friends, over good food and drinks, with your favourite jams playing in the background. For some young people living with cancer in New Zealand, this won’t be the reality this year. Some will be having tests, scans and cancer treatments, whilst others may be worrying about or even missing a loved one.
It’s hard to imagine that those things we take for granted, like Christmas, can be changed beyond recognition from one day to the next, but that’s what cancer does. It disrupts. It derails. It doesn’t care. But at CanTeen, we do.
When we heard we were the chosen charity for #NZSecretSanta again, we were super excited. Thanks to the amazing Santas and Elves, we could make Christmas for our members more awesome again this year, without the financial impact that would normally go hand-in-hand. It’s challenging as a charity to give our members that extra special something on every special occasion, but thanks to #NZSecretSanta we didn’t have to worry. The fabulous Elves even arranged for several batches of presents to reach us earlier than planned, so that we could hand them out at our Christmas parties for members across the country, and especially to cheer up our members stuck in hospital.
Seeing the gifts come in along with the beautiful messages of support was truly touching. We’ve also loved seeing all the amazing things the Santas have given each other and written in their CanTeen Christmas cards. Thank you, Elves, and thank you, Santas – you rock!
Lots of Christmas love from everyone at CanTeen x
Have you ever wondered what CanTeen does? Youth Support Coordinator Miranda Palmer sheds a little light on things in this super informative guest blog post. Over to you, Miranda!
At CanTeen, we support young people aged 13-24 who are affected by Cancer. We want to make sure no young person goes through cancer alone – patient, sibling or offspring – bereaved or non-bereaved. Support is a really individual thing, so we have several paths for being there for our young people. The 1-1 support us YSC’s provide is like having an advocate and mentor on your team, to be alongside a CanTeener, stick up for CanTeeners in their communities and provide options and access to support.
Peer support is my favourite part of CanTeen – young people are the experts on what they are going through, so who better to support them then others their own age who have been through the same thing! We also provide counselling, and weekend workshops where CanTeeners can let go, learn some new skills and meet others who get it. Lots of CanTeeners who are over the bad bits of their cancer experience love to give back, and to learn further skills. So we also provide leadership opportunities which gives these young people the chance to run their own events, use their story to advocate for others and fundraise for CanTeen. We even have an advocacy group specifically for young people who are looking to make change in their communities about the grief, loss and change around cancer!
We are really jazzed to have NZ Post Secret Santa choose us again! As CanTeen member leader Matt explained, the gifts and amazing thoughts given to us through this campaign goes towards a busy end of year time for us and our young people. For many young people, cancer doesn’t just impact them physically but also socially, emotionally, mentally and financially. Looking after themselves and their loves ones through treatment and loss becomes priority. Incomes are stretched, lives are changed and the meaning of life changes for our members – and thanks to NZ Post’s NZ Secret Santa we are able to bring a bit of joy and excitement into the lives of our members at this key time of year. From gifts to patients on ward, to vouchers to bereaved siblings and offspring, we are so humbled and grateful to be thought of.
Christmas parties are a chance to really spoil our members which are always great fun (despite what my photo looks like). They’re really a special time, where we can celebrate our members resilience, courage and strength in the face of cancer. #NZSecretSanta adds that extra sparkle to these events and to their lives, which we can’t thank you all enough!
CanTeen were kind enough to get a couple of guest bloggers for us, so prepare yourselves, Matthew Manukuo is up first! Take it away Matthew.
Hey! My name is Matthew Manukuo. I am 16 years of age and I am a cancer survivor! I also have the privilege and honour to be a member of CanTeen NZ’s Auckland Branch and be one of their member leaders.
At CanTeen, we not only have fun at Christmas, we also like to make sure EVERYONE is looked after. During the festive season, we put on a massive Christmas party for all our patient, sibling and offspring members. Our patients have a dedicated Christmas dinner where we give gifts and celebrate the hard year it has been for them. And the last thing we do is ensure our bereaved members and families are set up for Christmas. Thanks to #NZSecretSanta we’re able to make this possible thanks to all the gifts and goodies we get, to really make Christmas that much more special.
Thank you #NZSecretSanta for all your awesome support!