Team Senya's inspiring walk

4 March 2024 | Expected time to read: 6 minutes

Senya's parents walking during Walk for Kids with Cancer last year

When Senya was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2022, she had a long treatment journey ahead of her. The wonderful care she received inspired her family to give back through Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation’s epic Walk for Kids with Cancer.

Thi, Jamie and Senya take a selfie

Senya’s diagnosis came as a shock to her whole family, but there was little time to dwell on the life-changing news. Within days, the then bubbly six-year-old began what would become almost two difficult years of treatment that involved regular chemotherapy, a lumbar puncture and steroid therapy. To make things even tougher, her treatment left her with a weakened immune system that led to complications requiring major surgery.

Senya snuggles up to her teddy bear in hospital
Senya smiles at the camera during treatment. She is wearing a white knitted beanie with a blue and yellow flower.

Throughout her cancer journey Senya spent long periods of time in hospital feeling very unwell. But she refused to let that get her down, as her mum Thi explains.

“Even with everything she went through, she never lost her smile.”

Thi says that the team at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead went out of their way to keep Senya’s spirits up and make her treatment as gentle and bearable as possible.

“From the doctors and nurses on the wards to the physiotherapists, Senya’s medical team were a source of joy and comfort for us,” Thi says. “They became like a second family.

“The music and child life therapists who came to visit Senya did so much to make her stay in hospital as good as it could be. She’s a creative girl who loves arts, crafts, dancing and singing (especially Taylor Swift songs). She really looked forward to visits from the team who brought her books, toys and all sorts of wonderful things to take her mind off things.”

Senya pictured laughing from her hospital bed.

Senya’s family were delighted when her doctors told them she was well enough to transition to maintenance chemotherapy and go home. They celebrated the milestone with a special family activity.

“We’d had the pool built the summer before. But Senya wasn’t able to swim at that time because she still had a central line in. Once she moved to maintenance chemotherapy the line came out, and she was ready to go in. She could barely wait,’’ Thi said.

“We took the plunge hand in hand, and it was so special to see her in the water for the first time. It was an incredibly special moment, and one we will always cherish.”

Senya pictured back home where she belongs.

Feeling grateful for the care Senya has received throughout her treatment, Thi and her husband Jamie wanted to give something back.

“During our time at Westmead we could see how much the team did for the kids. Not just for Senya, but everyone. We wanted to do something to say, ‘thank you.’ We also had a lot of our friends and family asking what they could do to help.

“No child should ever have to go through cancer, but those who do deserve our all.”

Thi first heard about the Walk for Kids with Cancer  through a friend from her mother’s group. She quickly signed up for last year's event and what began as a small team with a modest fundraising target soon snowballed into something much bigger.

Team Senya ready to embark on their Walk for Kids with Cancer

“At the start it was just three of us mums hoping to raise $1000 for Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation (SCHF), but things grew pretty quickly from there. I started by sending out a message to Senya’s school and a bunch of the kindy mums decided they wanted to get involved.

“When I told my husband Jamie he got on board and insisted we set a more ambitious fundraising target, so we upped it to $5000. He was also able to get us a corporate donation from an old family friend who was involved with the ResMed organisation.”

The more people Thi told about her Walk, the more team members she recruited and funds she raised.

“I told my work about it, and they held a silent auction and a bake sale to raise some extra money for us,” Thi said.

“I wasn’t shy about sharing Senya’s story far and wide, which attracted support from some unlikely places. I even had old work mates from when I was living in London ten years ago chipping in. I realised how much compassion people out there have.”

Family and friends walk for Senya

In the end, Thi and her team raised a whopping $52,498 for SCHF, an extraordinary achievement that will make a powerful difference to sick kids like Senya.

This year, the family are sharing their story again to encourage the Movement of Many to take on Walk for Kids with Cancer this Sunday 24 March 2024, and help raise vital funds for the two oncology departments across Sydney Children's Hospitals Network.

“The Walk was really fun and well-organised. I didn’t realise how emotional I would get. I met so many people along the way and shared so many stories. It felt like we were part of a community of family and friends, walking together united.

“I also really enjoyed the delicious spread at the end.”

Entries for this year's Walk for Kids with Cancer are still open. Register today before it's too late and help raise vital funds for sick kids like Senya.

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