International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) 2024Awareness around childhood cancer is never limited to one day, however on this day each year, we pause to recognise the needs and challenges of young cancer patients & survivors worldwide. It is also a day where we honour the cherished memories of those whose lives have been lost.
Approx 40,000 children/adolescents worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, & 1000 of these are Australian. Concerningly, three of these children will lose their lives weekly to cancer. Despite significant advancements in medical research & treatment options, young cancer patients still face immense challenges & the impact extends far beyond those diagnosed.
ICCD serves as a poignant reminder of the urgency required to address unique challenges faced by children with cancer; a celebration of progress made in paediatric oncology; & renewed commitment to equitable access to quality care & support for all children affected by cancer. This day also recognises & highlights those who through unimaginable adversity, continue to make a profound difference in the lives of others.
One such family, is that of Zac Minty diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma at the age of eight – they are a shining example of resilience, courage, & strength, much like Zac himself.
Bricks & Smiles: the Zac Minty Legacy Project, was established by this remarkable family in honour Zac, who passed away aged 11. LEGO was important to Zac whilst undergoing treatment as it provided “a pastime, a rehab tool, a challenge, and an escape.” Despite his very young age, he aimed to support other kids going through cancer treatment by providing the opportunity to pick out their dream LEGO sets. He also wanted to help find a cure for cancer.
Bricks & Smiles directs fund to: Providing kids undergoing oncology treatment a $400 grant to pick out their dream LEGO set(s); Australian paediatric/AYA sarcoma research (including clinical trials)
In honour of Zak & in recognition of the outstanding work undertaken by his family to ease the burden on other children, CRBF will double all donations made to Bricks and Smiles (up to $2000) To donate or read more go to the link in our bio
In Zac’s family’s words:
“Zac was 8 when he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma in the orbit of his left eye. He bravely fought for almost 3 years, passing away in 2022, just after turning 11. He was in year 6 at the time.
Zac was an aspiring soccer goal keeper, a mad Liverpool FC fan and a kind, generous, thoughtful kid – a beautiful soul. He gave so much to us, he had so much more to give – but sarcoma took that away. He stoically battled through some incredibly harrowing treatment, always putting on a brave face and anxious to look out for those caring for him.
Our family set up Bricks & Smiles in Zac’s name. He loved doing LEGO through his treatment, it was an escape and an opportunity to feel in control in a world where so much was out of his control due to cancer. He would do LEGO on the hospital ward, at Ronald McDonald House, or at home – there was always something on the go. With Bricks & Smiles, kids undergoing oncology treatment can apply for a grant to pick out their dream LEGO sets. They can build them where and when they like.
It brought Zac joy to create, and it’s bringing other kids joy as they fight so hard against this cruel disease. Bricks & Smiles has also been able to make a contribution to sarcoma research and will continue to do so – we must all work together towards a cure for sarcoma and other cancers. No less.
Zac’s grandma Mary-Lou holds a cake stall every two weeks to raise money, zac’s mum and friends had their community sponsor their City to Surf run, Zac’s dad does the Bricks & Smiles website and his brother Elliott brought the school onboard to do SRC do fundraisers. Through all these little bits and pieces we stand up to cancer in Zac’s name. Granting the LEGO is us standing with other kids going through hard treatment. Bricks & Smiles also support the incredible work of researchers looking for a cure.
On Zac’s birthday his family will gather together at Ronald McDonald House to sponsor and prepare a ‘Meal from the Heart’ in Zac’s name. This is a great initiative that community and corporate groups can support families staying at the house by cooking and serving a meal for them. Zac and family spent almost 270 nights at RMDH through his treatment and his family benefited from so many Meals from the Heart. Even when Zac wasn’t able to eat much he loved the Meals from the Heart nights, as it made everyone’s life easier. It made us all feel nourished as well as full.
International Childhood Cancer Day is a day to support the children and adolescents that are battling cancer and their families, carers and communities. It is a day to support the amazing work of clinicians, medical and allied health staff, and medical researchers. It’s a day to commit to keep fighting this fight until we have a cure for childhood cancer. “
We urge you to support this outstanding initiative by going to www.bricksandsmiles.org