Meet the truly inspirational Fergus McCulla

Fergus  McCulla first appeared on our radar in late 2018, due to his raw and factual accounts of his current cancer treatments, which he posted on his Instagram page ‘The real face of cancer”…

We connected via social media, until finally meeting whilst he was undergoing treatment at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

The thing that stuck in my mind after meeting Fergus for the first time, was his bright and sunny demeanour, and a beautiful smile that was ever present, despite what he is forced to relive for a second time.  I have since come to realise the entire family are the same.  Mum Jane, dad Norman, and Fergus’ beautiful sister Anna, have been by his side every step of the way, not once but twice.

Fergus was diagnosed at the age of 7 with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in the bowel. He had been experiencing intense abdominal cramping, and the discovery of NHL was only made after having his appendix removed, and a biopsy of my bowel returning as malignant. This is very rare for a child to experience. 

After surgery and chemotherapy, and then receiving the all clear, Fergus went on to live a very normal life post-cancer, but he did understandably suffer mental trauma that had lingered from his sickness as a child, and an underlying worry when he became ill, that his mind would race to the worst conclusions if he experienced any pain in his body.

Fergus had spent several years in bands touring around Australia, and after realising his  lifestyle as a musician wouldn’t support him long-term, he was given the opportunity to work in the family publishing business at the age of 25.  He moved into his own place in 2017, and was loving his career and life was moving along perfectly.

Things changed in the blink of an eye, some 21 years after his first cancer diagnosis, in July of 2018.  Fergus had a growth on his gum, above top left incisor – which he had been monitoring for about a month. He decided to have it looked at, and was prescribed antibiotics to stop infection – which had no effect. After visiting a second GP, being prescribed the same antibiotics and having no results, he then visited his local dentist for root canal – which was unsuccessful as the nerves in his teeth were still very much alive.  He was then referred to a specialist, who took a biopsy from his gum, which came back as benign. As his  situation was unusual, and showing no definitive answers, together with his history of cancer, he was then referred to another specialist. 

Fergus’ results from a second, more invasive biopsy came back, and he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma of the maxilla, a rare and very aggressive form of cancer.  As the tumour was in a favourable site, the best option was to immediately resect his upper jaw – gaining a clear margin around the tumour. There was however,  a chance his body may have immunised itself to the drugs he had during chemotherapy earlier in life, and they would have no effect.

Fergus is now  part way through a fibula-flap reconstruction.  Initially his maxilla, along with the tumour were removed, and replaced with a graft taken from his left thigh. This took three surgeries before clear margins were gained around the site of the tumour and the graft took successfully.  He will require dental implants toward the end of this year, then in 2020 he will be doing reconstructive surgery – where his fibula will be taken for a bone graft to recreate his upper left jaw.

Earlier this year Fergus completed 30 sessions of radiotherapy, and is just about to finish a 6 month course of chemotherapy.  Radiation for this cancer requires the patient to wear a mask/plastic mould,  most prefer sedation, as it is terrifying.  and due to the close proximity to the brain, the patient is required to remain very still, under the plastic mould.  Sessions last between 15 and 30 mins each time.

Fergus was very well acquainted with  already the effects, and challenges of chemotherapy, however extensive surgery to the mouth and jaw, has required a lot of adjustment.    No longer being able to eat without a knife and fork, and having to consider things like the texture of food which can be so painful, the size of food, and temperature.  Things that we all take for granted, have now become daily struggles.

Radiation therapy was very difficult for Fergus due to the effects on the head and neck area, which become  extremely painful towards the end of treatment, and the fatigue is overwhelming. The basic process of taking a sip of water could not be done without intense pain, much less eating food or speaking.

The quote below sums up Fergus’ attitude to the appalling hand of cards he has been dealt.

“Although not ideal, and not yet over, things are looking very positive.  It has been a testing experience, but the real gift is life – which I’m incredibly grateful for. I’m also grateful to have the tremendous support of my family, and of so many friends, work colleagues and extended family.”

It is sarcoma patients such as Fergus who remind us that even when we are having a bad day – we aren’t…

Opening address – ANZSA Scientific Conference 2019

The Australia New Zealand Sarcoma Association annual scientific meeting was held in Canberra on 11th and 12th of October, bringing together a collection of the most stellar medical and scientific minds, all working toward a cure for sarcoma.

The conference showcased the ground breaking developments in research which will and in some cases are, of benefit to sarcoma patients globally, thus providing untold hope for the future.

It was an enormous privilege for our own Mitchell Rice-Brading to open the conference, with a passionate and heartfelt speech which was central to his own experiences of losing his younger brother Cooper, to sarcoma.

 

Transcript below:

 

My name is Mitchell Rice-Brading, and I am the brother of the young man whose name our Foundation proudly bears.

I would like to begin today by extending my deepest gratitude to ANZSA, and in particular, Dr Denise Caruso, for having me speak this morning, and I would like to impress the great privilege that I personally attach to the opportunity.

I’d also like to acknowledge the work that goes into both organising an event of this magnitude, and to making the effort to attend. As a recently graduated uni student, I am currently working 20 hours a week as a bartender.  I have just returned from the World Cup in Japan, and has another trip planned to Thailand at the end of the month, I can empathise with all of you in the room. We’ve all made sacrifices to be here today.

On a more serious note, my family and I find ourselves as incidental members of the greater sarcoma community.  It was unplanned, and unexpected. Unlike us, most of you in this room have chosen to devote your time working to improve the plight of those touched by a sarcoma diagnosis. We are humbled by the selflessness of choosing such a career path.

We have come to realise, that with the heartache and devastation that is a sarcoma diagnosis, it has also become the driving force for what ultimately brings us here today, motivated to instigate critical and positive change.

The gravity of losing my brother to this cancer is something I find difficult to articulate.  I can never see a day when the senseless loss of Cooper’s life will be something I can rationalise. Tragically, my brother became one of the many real faces of sarcoma, and now I am all too aware of what sarcoma represents, and why conferences such as this, are yet another crucial step forward.

Because, for all the scientific complexities, there is one unavoidable constant that follows a sarcoma diagnosis –  pure devastation.

Walking the road beside Cooper, I felt helpless. Sleepless nights pondering the future; The ever- present guilt because I was not the one afflicted; and the unwavering desire to say and do the right things to provide comfort, but ultimately feeling like nothing was ever enough.

And then there was the soul-crushing final act, helplessly witnessing the brother I grew up with, regress into a mere shell of his larger than life self, when treatment options were exhausted. Sadly, this an all too regular outcome for young sarcoma patients.

Nonetheless, my family were left with a choice: Sit on our hands and do nothing, or perpetuate Cooper’s memory and his vision, by joining with the remarkable group before me, and make a contribution no matter how small.

It is of note that as recently as three and a half years ago, when Cooper was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, treatment options were severely limited. This, of course, was no reflection on his stellar medical team – it is simply the way it was.

Similarly, a body of up to date, reliable, and user friendly information for patients and their families proved impossible to source. In our family, and I suspect in others, we introduced one policy: No Internet. The information that presented itself after one google search was astoundingly outdated, and generally soul-crushing for a recently diagnosed 17 year old boy.

Compounding this, was the fact adolescent patients were, and are, routinely treated in adult facilities, some barely past the age of 14. I dare say it won’t shock you to know, the needs of a teenage boy are vastly different to those of a 70 year old man.

Just over three years later, and the positive change is palpable. The emergence of future adolescent sarcoma centres, such as the one proposed for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse; dedicated sarcoma nurses helping patients through the medical minefield; imminent clinical trials for a number of sarcoma sub-types; cutting edge genomic sequencing programmes and trials; peer reviewed studies published in significant medical journals – the list goes on…

This, together with the highly credible and relevant information available on the new ANZSA website, has indeed removed a lot of angst out of those first weeks post-diagnosis. The change is visible and there for all of us to see, and is largely attributed to the persistent work of a number of those in the room today.

We are truly privileged to be working with some of the most distinguished clinicians and scientific researchers in this field. Then there are those who are driven by tragedy, who work tirelessly for change, and have created the most outstanding legacies to the loved ones they have lost, through fundraising and awareness campaigns.

I look around this room, and it is difficult not to be humbled and somewhat moved.  You inspire us as the relative new kids on the block, to adopt the patience, resilience and determination you have all shown over many years. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will sarcoma be cured in a day, and it is these qualities in each of us, which will ultimately lead to critical advancements.

I don’t necessarily have what it takes to be a medical oncologist, nor have the deep biological knowledge required for meaningful research. But all of us in the room today are fighting sarcoma as a team, and all players in a team have a role.  At the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, our role is clear: to assist in facilitating your work, and to support you in future initiatives. And when we look at the progress we’ve already made, it is simply difficult not to be inspired, and to push through on the difficult days.

From all of us at CRBF, we extend our deepest gratitude to each of you for the outstanding work you continue to accomplish in this field, and for openly accepting us as a small part of this stellar team.

All of us here today are aspiring to make sarcoma history, and we’re not giving in.

 

 

 

A simple moment in time – captured forever…

From the moment I woke this morning, one of my favourite images of Cooper was present in my mind.  The photo portrays a blissfully happy 16 year old with not a care in the world, doing what he loved the most – playing cricket and being with his team mates.

The camera had caught him turning from a team huddle, and unbeknownst to him, he was looking straight down the lens.   He had no opportunity for his hallmark grimaces, threats, screwing up of nose and face, and occasional ‘blue’ word that were forthcoming when he was asked to pose for a shot.  The finished result was a photo our family  will cherish forever.

The innocence, and true simplicity of that shot, was lost on me at the time – I just knew I loved the photo.

How could we have ever predicted the immense significance of this photo?

Less than four months after this photo was taken, Coop’s life changed irreversibly, and his normal teenage existence, became a living nightmare, filled with angst, and pain no-one could possibly understand.  Life for Coop became a daily struggle, whilst he was forced to contemplate his mortality.  He had just turned 17, and the life he had carefully planned, was turned upside down – never to be the same again.

Four years later almost to the month, and the 24th August is again upon us – the day when Coop left our sides forever.  The day when life changed irreversibly for each of us.  The significance of treasured memories like this photo are magnified with the emotion of the day.

The void Coop has left in our lives simply cannot be articulated.  The dull aching pain that will never leave.  The silent tears.  Our hearts broken forever.  Life in a highly altered state. Time does not heal – instead it serves to remind that with each passing day, it is yet another day since we held our precious son/brother – forced to say goodbye far too soon.

We long to turn back the hands of time, but know this is not to be.

Today is a day when we are reminded of what was, and sadly, what should have been.

The photo is a precious reminder of a time which although we couldn’t see it at the time – was so close to perfect.  A time when our boy’s lives were about to take flight.  When the world was at their feet, and like all parents, we could not wait to see where life would take them.

A simple moment in time – captured forever.

Friends for life…

During global sarcoma awareness month we are running a series of stories to shine a spotlight on not just the cancer itself, but to highlight the remarkable individuals whose lives have been touched along the way.

I was contacted several months ago by a concerned mother and friend, Annette Supple, whose life had been deeply affected by sarcoma through her daughter Georgia’s best friend, Ashley Thomas, diagnosis with osteosarcoma at the age of 14.

Georgia had expressed to her mum she would like to cut her very long, beautiful hair to donate to a charity so it may be used to potentially lift a cancer patient’s spirits, and to raise money for sarcoma research in the process.

At 14 a cancer diagnosis represents the unthinkable. For the family and particularly and close friends of these young patients, growing up quickly is part of the process whilst providing support throughout diagnosis and treatment. For most 14 year olds, the biggest question of the day is what to wear? Yet Ashley and Georgia live amidst an unspeakably difficult process not many could ever begin to imagine. For this reason Georgia’s gesture was as unexpected as it was humbling.

Whilst Ashley is now fully recovered from surgery, Georgia will remain by her side to provide support and strength to her friend, throughout the months of chemotherapy which lie ahead.

Georgie Supple – In her own words…

When Ashley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma just after Christmas last year I felt helpless and confused. We had been friends since the day she was born, had all our first days of school together since preschool, and I was devastated to not be able to continue that tradition.

A few weeks into Ashley’s chemo, her hair started falling out, first a few strands, then small chunks, then what looked like a whole head of hair. It was hard to watch as she had always loved her hair and it was a part of her. My mum shaved Ashley’s head in hospital one Friday night. It was very hard for me to watch. I felt as though I needed to show her that losing her hair wouldn’t change who she was.

I considered shaving my head for a while, but then decided it would be best to cut off enough to donate to a wig making company. It will be made into a wig for someone, probably another child, who has lost their hair too. I looked around and found one where I could donate anywhere above 25 cm of hair. Through doing this I raised $350 and gave Ashley the confidence to feel beautiful even without her hair.

She is beautiful, she is my best friend, and she is a fighter.

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City2Surf 2019

With a month to go, the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation City to Surf team will once more spill onto William St, making their way onto New South Head Road, on the 14 km road to ‘Cure Sarcoma’.  

Register before 24th July and receive a $10 discount! It’s a two step process:

1. Register for the City2Surf 2019

Register for City2Surf 2019 at https://city2surf.com.au/

  • Join the TEAM “Coops Sprint for Sarcoma” as you register
  • Do NOT select a charity partner as you register for the event

2. Create a Fund-Raiser Page to Raise Funds for Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation

Go to https://city2surf2019.everydayhero.com/au/get-started

  1. Enter Your Page Title
  2. From the list of Charities select “Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation” – VERY IMPORTANT!!!
  3. Enter the remainder of details for the page
  4. Create Your Page
  5. Once page created select button on right to “Join an existing team”
  6. Search for Coops Sprint for Sarcoma
  7. Select “Join this Team”

Share your page with all friends and family through social media and email, and ask them to help us continue Cooper’s legacy to raise money for sarcoma research!

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.

How do we begin to say thank you?…

Tuesday 22nd January, 2019  saw CRBF host the second T20 Birthday Bash at Trumper Park Oval, Paddington.  This event was incepted in 2018, by Coop’s friend and representative team mate, Will Todd.  Will, together with his family, mum Robin, dad James, and brother Tommy, worked so hard once again this year, to ensure the outstanding success of the event.  We are indebted to the Todd family for their ongoing commitment to this event, together with their love and support.

The oval was prepared to perfection for the event, and we would like to thank the Trumper Park Groundsman, Guy, who painstakingly prepared the wicket.  We were privileged to be the first hirers of the newly refurbished canteen, which withstood its first big test, with flying colours.  Our thanks are extended to Kim from Woollahra Council, for assisting us with the entire ground hire process, and the Council for waiving the ground hire fee.

A sell-out crowd once again witnessed a quality game where the CRBF All Stars were very unlucky not to take the bat home this year, going down narrowly to the CRBF 1st X1.

Man of the match was Will Simpson, with runners up, Cameron McLean, and Will Mallett.  We thank each of the thirty amazing young men for giving up their day, to participate in this very special event.

Below are the match reports from Mitch Rice-Brading and Will Todd.

-Mitchell Rice-Brading-

 The second annual CRBF T20 Bash, saw the CRBF 1st XI  looking to defend their title against the CRBF All Stars. After winning the toss and electing to bowl, the CRBF XI got off to flyer, especially Robin Evans, who was literally flying as he plucked a one handed screamer at square leg. Reeling at six for not many, after Will Mallett had run through the top order, Will Simpson entered the crease, and was kindly greeted by his whipping boy Steve Salakas. Simpson went about quickly rebuilding the innings, dispatching Salakas to all parts on his way to a finely constructed 80. As the tail rallied, the All Stars were able to put 172 on the board, a very competitive total considering their start.

The CRBF XI got off to a shaky start, losing Evans in the first over, but before long Isaac Crawford and Cameron Mclean were moving along beautifully at the crease. Quick singles and twos were few and far to come by, however this was masked by the destructive boundary hitting of both boys. After Crawford fell, Baxter Holt came to the crease and maintained the rage, including one remarkable switch hit which cleared the boundary by 30 metres. The contributions of these 3 boys saw the CRBF XI cruise to victory in the 17th over, and holding on to the bat for another year.

We know Coops is smiling down on us proudly as we honour his legacy in the most appropriate manner possible.

-Will Todd-

Winning the toss, the CRBF All Stars set out to score a big total. It was all the CRBF XI early with Will Mallett and Alec Sheldon tearing up the All Stars top order. Will Lawrence and Tom Miller looked eager to get the all stars back on track before they were both dismissed just shy of 20. Will Simpson proved to be the remedy for the All Stars, and simply too good for the CRBF XI, blasting an important 80 runs. Simpson cleared the rope all around the ground and with both hands! An extremely valuable 30 from Harry Crawford led the All Stars to a final total just shy of 180.

With a big total on the board Charlie Hooke wound back the clock with a fantastic opening spell, dismissing the dangerous Robin Evans in the first over. However, a huge first wicket partnership put the CRBF XI in the box seat. The All Stars fought back with two quick wickets providing some hope. However, a fiery 40 from Baxter Holt sealed the CRBF XI’s second victory in consecutive years.

The CRBF XI again proved to be too good for the All Stars.

As with the year prior, the day was another overwhelming success, and our family are truly touched by the generosity of all those who attended.  The  atmosphere in the stands was electric, and made for a fantastic vibe both on and off the ground.  On a day every year, that is an extremely difficult one for our  family, we are so humbled by the willingness of those attending, to make it a special day.

We could not conduct an event like this without our magnificent volunteers.  I could literally write all day and I would still be unable to adequately thank these remarkable individuals:

Kate Longden, Libby Patterson, Keith Cox, Tim, Gloria & Josh Gapes, Michael Furlong, Mitchell Rice-Brading, Emma Duncan and photographer Sorabh Arya who was also responsible for erecting marquees and everything in between,  all deserve a special mention for their staying power on a very hot day.  All starting between 11am and 12 midday and there until the end of the day.  Thank you really does not seem to cover our gratitude to each of you.

Joining these remarkable individuals were brothers Oscar and Hugo Patterson with a group of young friends who I am sure would have better things to do on a very hot day, but who worked so hard to prepare the exterior.  We thank them all so very much, together with our Chairman Robert Beech Jones, who put on an apron and worked for hours on the barbecue, producing some fine cooking in the process, Luke Bennett for set up, Chris Nicol, Michael Comino, Ani Joshi, and Toby Debelak in the bar, our umpires Martin Rossleigh and James Todd,  George Foley and Alexander Magiros who kept an close eye on everything around the ground, Josh & Alison Craig together with Gillian Sloane, who greeted our guests and stamped our over 18s, and Graham Nicol on barbecue.

We also extend our thanks to Kirsten Martenssen and Nikki Yeaman for their outstanding work in selling our raffle tickets, Lilah Critchley-Isherwood and Fiona Beith for their help with food prep, and Peter Salakas and Mitch Rice-Brading for a highly entertaining four-hour stint at the microphone.

An event such as this would not be possible without our commercial partners and sponsors.  We thank the following individuals and businesses for their generosity:

Mr Graham McDonald  & Cooper’s Brewery

Mr Mark Swadling – Pontoon, Darling Harbour

Ms Nikki Yeaman – Costume Box

Mr and Mrs D Mallett

Ms Kate Longden and the Roche family

The Royal Hotels  Group

Ms Louise Lorkin – Director, Albion Sports

Kim Solman – Woollahra Council

Woollahra Council

Easts Bulldogs Junior AFL

Easts Cricket Club

Brendan Hilferty – The Winepoint

Nguyen Bakery – Bondi Road

Clovelly Village Butchery

Ben Ralph & Dell Yates – All Size Miracles

Steph Hanna – Ties and Cuffs

Coles Supermarkets

Our final thanks goes to each of our supporters.  You purchased raffle tickets, tickets to the game, food and beverage, and proved to once again be the perfect group of spectators on the day.

More significantly to our family,  you once again wrapped your arms around our family on a day when we needed it most.

CRBF 1ST X1                                                 CRBF All Stars

Jack Gibson – CaptainWill Todd – Captain
Cam McLean- Vice CaptainFionn Geraghty  – Vice Captain
Robin EvansTom Chichester
Baxter HoltHarry Crawford
Sam IsherwoodJoe Bonic
Joe MackieMax Bonic
Will MallettCharlie Hooke
David RobinsonWill Lawrance
Stephen SalakasGus McGrath
Alec SheldonTom Miller
Marcus ShownirukXavier Roche
Will YeamanMax Patterson
 Tommy Scribner
 Will Simpson