The English Channel Swim launches…

Matthew & Chris Watson with friend Sam Gilbert

The Watson family are impressive by any standards.  Professor John Watson is an eminent Sydney Neurologist, Senior Vice Dean of the UNSW Medical Faculty, and a former Rhodes Scholar, who now is the Deputy National Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarships in Australia.  His wife Julieanne is not only a very busy mother of four, but she holds an array of impressive qualifications which sees her professional life working with the Australiana Fund, preserving and acquiring a permanent collection of Australian artworks, which furnishes the official residences occupied by the Governor General and Prime Minister of Australia. When they are not devoting time to their four sons, and their respective careers, they are helping others in a multitude of ways.  Their reputation for giving is well recognised amongst those who know them well.

Family is everything to John and Julieanne, and it is hardly surprising this power couple have produced four boys who are carbon copies of their parents.  Matt 29, Chris 26, Tim 22 and Peter 16, are each already making their mark on the world, and they too have been taught the value of hard work, giving back, and being the best version of yourself.

Our family has known the Watsons for over a decade, due to friendships formed between our sons at Sydney Grammar School.  Our eldest son Mitch, and Tim Watson have been the closest of friends for many years. When Cooper was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the family were the first to offer anything and everything to make life easier for him, and for us.  Put simply, they are the friends you need to have when your world is crumbling around you.

In 2016, Chris Watson offered to tutor Coop for HSC, whilst in hospital.  He was in Year Eleven and the rigours of chemotherapy made study very difficult.  Chris was instrumental in devising ways Coop could continue study, without overtaxing him, and allowing him to keep up with HSC commitments.  Nothing was ever any trouble to Chris. The sad reality was, Coop was in a state of decline, and study eventually took a back seat to survival.

In November of 2018, I was overseas and received a most unexpected text message from Chris, who is studying a Masters in Genetic Research, advising me of his intention to swim the English Channel, with brother Matt and their lovely friend Sam Gilbert.   The three young men, who are all working in, or studying medicine and science, had under their own volition, opted to undertake this gruelling swim, and direct funds raised from the swim, to the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health where Matt and Chris have helped as volunteers and participated in fly-in fly-out clinics to remote communities, and to our very own CRBF.  Not surprisingly the rest of the Watson family also volunteer with the Poche Centre, with Tim . We were totally humbled by the gesture.

By means of background…

Matt Watson is 28 and currently working as a Resident at the Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, and has a strong interest in Indigenous Health issues, having done fly-in fly-out clinics with the Poche centre.  Matt studied a Bachelor of Commerce, and then MB BS at USyd, and is marrying his wonderful fiancee Sofie next month.

Sam Gilbert, 27 is currently working for biomedical engineering company, developing products with the hope of helping spinal injury patients to regain more function than currently possible.  Sam studied a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Biomedical) at USyd, and is also a wicked chef.

Chris Watson, 26 is currently doing an MPhil, doing research toward treating genetic diseases of the brain at the Children’s Hospital Westmead, and will complete his medical course, an MD at USyd in 2019.  Chris also studied a Bachelor of Science, with an Honours year and the University Medal in neuroscience.

On February 2nd this year, the English Channel Swim was officially launched at a superb event in the magnificent gardens of the Watson family home, complete with magnificent catering, and a superb jazz band with music provided by Will McInnes, Rob Christian, Sam Rochlin and Ben Daniel.  Over 100 guests gathered to lend their support to these outstanding young men, who are preparing for the gruelling swim in July.

The Channel is a swim of about 44 km that can vary wildly depending on tides and conditions. The boys expect to take around 13 hours non-stop, and are currently training 10-12 hours per week, on top of their gruelling work and study schedules.   Apart from the 16-degree water of the English Channel, other challenges include negotiating sewage, freight ships in one of the world’s busiest waterway, and stinging jellyfish.

We at CRBF sincerely thank Sam, Chris and Matt for their generosity of spirit, and their thoughtfulness, and we wish them a safe and healthy passage throughout their swim.

TO DONATE – PLEASE GO TO THE LINKS BELOW

https://crowdfunding.sydney.edu.au/project/13264  –

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney was established and funded in 2008 by philanthropists Greg Poche AO, Kay Van Norton Poche and their friend Reg Richardson AM.

The Poche Indigenous Health Network was created in Australia to make the most of the efforts and resources of the individual Poche Centres for Indigenous Health and to focus on issues best dealt with at a national level.

The Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation link may be found be going to:

https://give.everydayhero.com/au/english-channel-swim-

The sarcoma awareness campaign finally launches


Press here to view full interview

https://www.9now.com.au/today/2019/clip-cjrsgj2hy00000gmpt4vndnxv

Wednesday 6 February saw the launch of the CRBF national sarcoma awareness video on the Nine Network, Today Extra.

The interview was superbly crafted, with Coop’s dear friends Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli and Peter Overton leading the segment with their in depth knowledge on the plight of sarcoma patients, and the cancer itself.  Peter and Wippa were faultless in their delivery, and their humanisation of the story behind the Foundation.  At the core of what we do, are the faces of sarcoma, and they are the same faces that drive us to instigate change by providing funding and awareness for this cancer.  It is therefore critical we do not lose sight of those for whom we work.

Seasoned professionals, David Campbell and Richard Wilkins were flawless as hosts, and we thank them for the very respectful way the segment was navigated.  Sarcoma is an intensely serious topic, and can be a very tricky in an interview environment.  It proved to be no hurdle for either of these polished presenters.

Finally, we want to express our gratitude to the powerhouse duo behind the scenes, Today Extra producers, Liz Adam, and Blake Dale, who had thoroughly researched the segment, and directed the piece in such a respectful and factual manner.

This important initiative would not be possible without each of these outstanding individuals who shone the spotlight on sarcoma and the inherent issues faced by patients, clinicians, families and loved ones.

Once more we find ourselves searching for words to express our gratitude to this fabulous foursome.

Meet our new Patient Ambassadors


Imogen Atkins

After going through 8 months of chemo, and a 5 hour life and limb saving surgery it is amazing to be able to be back doing more normal things.  I still face regular check ups, and have only recently finished tougher rehabilitation, but in no way have, or will I, let that stop me from trying to do and achieve what I really want.

Let’s start with school and Uni. I successfully completed my final year of school with a highly sought after OP 8, despite many people suggesting I, a) repeat year 11, and b) to go down the path of getting a Rank instead. This year I am starting my Bachelor of Wildlife Science and hope to end up in conservation work. I have experienced a lot of times when I really had to push for what I wanted, and I’ve learned that if I know I can achieve something, I should push and achieve it.

Prior to the cancer, I was a very avid rower.  It was truly heartbreaking and difficult when I was told I might not be able to row again, but being the persistent and slightly stubborn person I am, I refused to take that as a never.  As soon as I was able to, I worked at regaining my strength and bend in my knee.  So, in my final year of school I once again competed in the BSRA competition as part of a crew who came first at the Head of the River Regatta. But it is honestly just amazing to be back on the water.  Despite the cold mornings of training, being on the water is one of the most important things to me, and brings me so much joy.

I have also found out that I like having a voice.  I am now part of the Queensland Youth Cancer Advisory Group.  In this group I, and several others, advise Queensland Youth Cancer Service on health service planning, delivery, evaluation education and training, together with developing spaces and facilities for young patients and their families.  We talk and discuss with people who are looking to improve their services.  I am basically a voice trying to make another young person’s cancer journey or experience, just that little bit better, and a little bit easier.  I feel this is really good and important.

After my cancer experience, I realised that I have to step into life, find ways of doing things, and never give up on my dreams.  I can no longer ski, so I learnt and continue to learn how to snowboard, and even when on my Year 12 Snowy trip in September 2018. 

I have done a range of things both in my normal life and my cancer life. Normal: I travelled to London and Finland with my family, I was a Bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding, and I became a Volunteer at Australia Zoo. Cancer: I presented at and sat on a panel of people at a Medical Conference. I have attended Bissy4Ward and Warf4Ward hosted Sony You Can Foundation.

But I’ve also lost two friends to Sarcoma and everyday I’m concerned I’ll loss another so in my life of remission I fight not just for myself but for them. I hope to be in that too small percent that survive so that I can live not just for myself but for them.

That is why I am now an Ambassador of the CRBF and hope that I can help find a way and be voice to make those percentages bigger.

Charlii Croese

 

I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my left femur on 29th of February 2016 I was 16 years old. For two months, I was missed diagnosed, I was firstly told I had a torn hamstring then I was told I had torn my ACL. Finally, after two months of horrific pain I finally received the scans we had been asking for. I was walking on a completely broken femur for two months and not even realising.

Being told you have cancer at the age of 16 is an absolute nightmare sitting in the doctor’s room and to hear those words shattered my heart into a million pieces my world was taken from me within a blink of an eye. At the age of 16 you’re just going into year 11 working out if you want to go to university and what you want to do for the rest of your life. Well not for kids like cooper and I for us it was being in a room with chemotherapy running feeling sick struggling to keep any food or drink down barely being able to have a shower and go to the toilets on certain days.

Crying in your bed just wishing for the pain and sickness you feel in your stomach for days on end to just go away. And on your good days spending it in your bed just watching television and enjoying not staring at those same 4 walls in your hospital room and having the company of your family and pets around.

Throughout my journey I struggled with seeing everyone around me move on with their life and mine just stood still. I wasn’t normal compared to all my friends. I lost many other cancer patients that I met throughout my journey and I felt so guilty to still be here without them. They became my family we understood what each other were going through. Many of my friends couldn’t deal with me being sick so they stopped speaking to me and would ignore me. I never held a grudge everyone deals with an illness in different ways. 

I just started to focus on myself and my health. My health was the most important thing while going through treatment. My family and my best friend were my rock I have the most amazing positive support group I’m so blessed to have such an amazing group of people whom support me.

Still ’til this day whenever I get any ache or pain in my body I always think the worst. Each day I always have a moment during the day that I think about my journey I still struggle everyday with what I’ve been through and how many people I’ve lost. Every day I just tell myself I’m a fighter and to be positive and take every day as it comes. Mum always said to me every day while I was battling cancer take it one day at a time and till this day it is exactly what I do.

Now two years in remission my life couldn’t be more amazing I just live each moment like it’s the last. The past 6 months we had some ups and downs my oncologist thought my cancer had come back and to hear it hadn’t was music to my ears I pray every day my cancer never comes back in the future. 

I’m completely over the moon, I’ve had the honour to become an ambassador of the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation to be asked has made my heart so full I feel so privileged to be a part of such an amazing foundation there is nothing else I would rather do.

It’s time to raise awareness for Sarcoma we can do it together we can save someone else’s life and we will.

 

CRBF Sarcoma Awareness Campaign


The production of this awareness campaign has been a labour of love based on Cooper’s vision to ask the generous public figures and celebrities in his life, to join him in creating a national awareness programme for sarcoma.

The rationale behind this was simple.  He felt no-one would listen to a “pimply faced teenager with sarcoma”, but they may listen to this high profile collective, and in doing so lives could be saved.  Early diagnosis saves lives, and awareness of this cancer is paramount to improving survival outcomes.

Sadly Coop did not live to see what his friends have produced, however we know he would be humbled by the finished result, as the passion for cause is evident from all those involved.

We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to our celebrities in no particular order Peter Overton, Jessica Rowe, Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli, Mia Freedman, Peter FitzSimons, Callum Mills, Jimmy Barnes and Paul Roos, for helping us shine a light on sarcoma in our national awareness campaign.  

We extend a very warm thank you to our young sarcoma survivors, Imogen Atkins and Charlii Croese for the courage and bravery they have shown in participating in this campaign. We remain in awe of your resilience and determination.

Special thanks to Rudimental and songwriter John Newman, for allowing us to use’ Not Giving In’ as our soundtrack without fees, and to the amazing and ever dependable John Watson,  Founder, Eleven:  A Music Company, and manager to Jimmy Barnes, for facilitating the process.

Finally we thank our stellar and highly talented producers, James Tindale and Kristy Everett for their outstanding work, their patience and direction, together with the ever generous Michael Cordell for the loan of equipment, George Tyler for his creativity and guidance when filming our celebrities, and to Claire Bonic for her behind the scenes help throughout filming.