Charlii Croese. From the heart…

As we continue through July, international sarcoma awareness month, we are honoured to be presenting a number of stories from young patients and their families.

Today we are going to introduce you to Charlii Croese. Charlii is an engaging, effervescent young lady, who despite her challenges with sarcoma, has never missed a beat. Charlii has shared some valuable insight into life since her diagnosis.

At an age when the most difficult decision most sixteen year olds have, is what to wear, Charlii was battling osteosarcoma of the femur, undergoing unspeakably rigorous treatment regimes and surgeries.

Unless you have witnessed the devastation this cancer causes first hand, you cannot begin to imagine what these young patients go through, and yet Charlii, and Imogen like so many others, refuse to allow this disease to define them.

To say we are full of admiration and reverence for Charlii, and other young patients traveling this road, is an understatement.

Charlii Croese in her own words

I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my femur on 29th of February 2016. I was 16 years old…

What I struggled with most was seeing everyone around me move on with their life and mine just stood still. I wasn’t normal compared to all of my friends.

I lost many other cancer patients that I met through my journey and I felt so guilty to still be here without them. They became my family.

I lost many friends that couldn’t deal with me being sick so they stopped speaking to me and would ignore me.

I became quite depressed while going through treatment as I was always either stuck in a hospital bed or at home staring at the same four walls.

Still to this day whenever I get any ache or pain in my body I always think the worst.

Each day I always have a moment where I think about my journey. I still struggle everyday with what I’ve been through and how many people I’ve lost. So everyday I just tell myself I’m a fighter and to be positive and take everyday as it come.

Mum always said to me everyday while I was battling cancer take it one day at a time and ’til this day it is exactly what I do…

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned Mother’s Day ‘roast’…

Below is a transcript of the speech delivered by

Mitchell Rice-Brading

at the

CRBF Inaugural Mother’s Day Breakfast

11 March, 2018.

Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation board members, invited guests, and in particular, to each mum in the room this morning, welcome.  My name is Mitchell Rice-Brading, and it is my brother’s name, that the Foundation proudly bears. I would like to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to support the Foundation this morning.

It is indeed a pleasure to stand before you, and to embrace this celebration of a day, even though a number of us in the room will be thankful we actually remembered Mother’s Day this year. As sons and daughters, we celebrate the fact we dodged yet another bullet, that would see us otherwise trying to find a Coles flogging a box of Lindt chocolates at 50% off on Sunday morning. Never mind the fact we’re generally horrifically hungover, and are taking trips to the bathroom every 15 minutes during brunch. Of course, mums never articulate their disappointment, but you can tell they take some joy out of watching us squirm, and the icy stare says it all…

Jokes aside, no matter how much we do, or do not show it, we all remain grateful for the presence of mums in our lives. This particularly applies to matters of appearance. I’m sure I’m not the only one in the room here who receives feedback on their attire. I mean, I for one don’t know how I’ve coped without mum’s daily hints and tips over recent years, since spending less time at home. In fact, it’s really a testament to mum that I’m talking up here today fully clothed. Looking ahead 20 odd years, I can see a day when I’m visiting mum, like the caring son I am, and despite the fact she’ll be closer to *mumble*, her inner Alex Perry will appear, and she’ll comment on what I’m wearing. Ah well, at least it’ll be easier walking out of the cheapest retirement home in Sydney, knowing my decision to ship her out to Blacktown had been validated.

I should give everyone in the room some context for my comments here. All these bits of advice on my outfits, come from the same woman who took pleasure out of dressing coops and I in matching sailors outfits as innocent and helpless toddlers. Apparently looking like back-up dancers for the village people wasn’t enough, and we were also forced to rock haircuts where I can only assume we ran into financial trouble and couldn’t afford a hairdresser, so mum placed bowls on our heads and shaved anything that was visible. The result had us looking like we belonged next to the Beatles during the 60s, and fortunately, there are a pair of charcoal drawings on our walls ensuring our bowl cut phase is preserved forever. Not a dinner party goes by where the two creepy kids on the wall aren’t brought up, so thanks again mum for ensuring the good old days have been immortalised.

I should also mention mum’s prowess in the kitchen. Many of you here today will know mum as a very proficient cook, and I’m not here to dispute that, however there have been some swings and misses over the years. I distinctly remember one morning, where after weeks of unsuccessfully trying to get coops to take his morning fish oil tablet, mum decided to take things into her own hands. She very sneakily squeezed the fish oil under his omelette, operating under the assumption it would go unnoticed. It didn’t. “Muuuum my omelette tastes disgusting, what have you done to it”. “Nothing cooper, there is nothing wrong with it, now please stop complaining and eat it”. Of course, there was something wrong with it. There was fish oil in it, and that’s disgusting, but hey you can’t blame a mum for trying.

Now I know many of you will have parents on social media, and I know a similar amount of you will have parents who don’t know how to use social media, but I still think mum takes the cake. There are no two ways about it: it should be legislation that my mother is not allowed near an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account. However, until Mr Turnbull responds to my emails, we will continue hearing stories like these. Recently, I was messaged by a friend, saying that the Foundation Instagram page had put up an interesting insta story. I thought nothing of it, only to check the insta story, which is visible to all, only to be greeted by none other than mum, staring at the camera, unintentionally zooming in and out on her confused face five times. I could ask mum 100 times to put up an insta story, and every time she would honestly say she has no idea. But in my opinion, she saved the best for Dad, when she was under his alias on Facebook. thinking she was using the Foundation’s page, mum got excited when she saw the “add friend” button, and pressed away at familiar names and faces. Shortly after, I was made aware to the fact my father had been adding not only several of my friends, but also boys and girls from several years below. I need not elaborate on how uncomfortable this was for all involved, for so many reasons. So, if you’re listening Mr Turnbull, please get back to me A.S.A.P.

Mum wanted me to keep this introduction light-hearted this morning, and don’t worry I could stand up here all day rattling off anecdotes about her fails as a mum, but it would be remiss of me not to mention her qualities as a mother, and a person. For every fish oil infused omelette, there have been at least like, maybe 10 non-fish oil infused omelettes. Of course I’m kidding – Coopsand I were blessed growing up with daily hot breakfasts, and I know for a fact friends loved coming over for sleepovers, because breakfast itself was normally a 3 course meal consisting of fruit, eggs and bacon, and pancakes. Every morning we were driven to school, despite living one short bus trip away, and every weekend she’d be on the sidelines supporting us with our footy and cricket. In fact, this support was often audible. Very audible. I knew I’d done something good when I heard that familiar shriek reverberating across the field we were playing at. And of course, there’s her tireless work for the Foundation, ensuring the legacy Coops started is carried on valiantly, by putting on beautiful events like this one today. So mum, I want to thank you for being the kindest and most generous person I know, and don’t ever stop asking me if I would consider trying that other pair of pants on?

And to all the mums out there, I’m sure your own boys and girls will remind you over the weekend, but thank you for putting up with us. Thank you for picking us up when we got too drunk on goon at a party whilst underage, for cooking us dinner when we said we would be home and then we weren’t, and for letting us use the car for a couple of hours, and then not seeing it again until it needs to be filled up with petrol several days later. We all love you, and are blessed to have you in our lives.

Thank you for bearing with me, and I hope you all continue to enjoy the rest of your morning.

Simply the best

January 31, 2018

In an age where “millennials” as they are now fondly known, receive their fair share of unfavourable press, due to their reported oblivion to the world outside their own, it is always a good day when you can share a story which turns the tide.

Baxter Holt, is a young man from The Kings School, Sydney, who has been on the fringe of our life for many years.  He and Cooper, had trialled side by side for representative cricket selection for many years, and had faced one another on the field on many occasions, throughout the Sydney GPS cricket competition.  Coop’s big brother Mitch had also played against Baxter in the GPS competition.

But it was not Baxter’s outstanding achievements on the cricket field that find me writing this blog today, it was his caring, thoughtfulness, and his unsolicited kindness.  Traits, which if you believe all that is written, are more often missing than not, in his generation.

Baxter took the time to write to Coop, when he was at his lowest ebb, after their school teams met on the field in the latter part of 2016. Cooper was struggling at this stage, as his cancer had metastasised to his right femur, and the pain of bowling was immense.  He was however, hell-bent, on ensuring no-one outside the family knew.  Baxter had no idea how serious Cooper’s condition was at the time, nor would he have known how much his words beautifully chosen words, meant to Coop, when he was so desperately in need of that random act of kindness.  I have attached the link to the article written by Peter FitzSimons in his column The Fitz Files, (SMH) in which he writes of the this particularly meaningful gesture.

When it came time to choose the very important roles of CRBF Ambassadors, it became clear Baxter would the perfect choice.  He embodies the unique spirit we envisage will be present in all we do in Cooper’s name, and the legacy he left behind.

Thank you Baxter for all you have done, and continue to do, for Cooper and his legacy.  Your kindness will never be forgotten.

When thank you really doesn’t seem enough…

January 30, 2018

When thank you really does not seem enough…

The CRBF Inaugural Birthday Big Bash was held on Monday 22nd January 2018 with resounding success.  It reminded me of a quote from Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

On Monday, each person present played a critical role in heightening the awareness of sarcoma, the forgotten cancer.  Too many young lives each year are taken as a result.  The game was yet another step toward preserving Cooper’s legacy, and his long- held passion to fund the critical research required to make a difference.  This event was never designed to be a major fundraiser, but instead to allow many to have closure on what has been an unspeakably difficult five months, whilst participating in something they all hold a shared passion for.  On saying this we can announce today, we are over $5000 closer to finding a cure for sarcoma thanks to the generosity of our supporters on the day.

I will begin the formal thank you’s with a genuine apology to our guest, Australian Spin Bowler/Sixers star, Nathan Lyon.  In my very emotional state on the day, I very rudely overlooked publicly expressing our thanks to Nathan, who gave up his time to umpire the game, and to have photos taken with all who asked.  He was generous to a fault, and certainly did not deserve to be sidelined by my ageing memory, and my inability to remember very much these days.  He was not alone.  I also forgot to mention my husband Colin, the powerhouse behind the Foundation, and our son Mitch, who works tirelessly to instigate the change his brother so desperately wanted to see in his lifetime. Joining the illustrious list of the forgotten, was CRBF Communications manager, Luke Bennett, who works so very hard for the Foundation, at unusual hours, to ensure our social media and website is always taken care of.

We would like to thank the players who graciously gave up, what could have been a relaxing day at the beach, instead opting for a spirited cricket match in 32 degree heat. Without each of these special young men, there would not have been a game.  The result could have conceivably gone either way, however the CRBF 1st X1 took the inaugural “bat”, a trophy which is Cooper’s custom made Laver & Wood, pride and joy.  It now proudly bears a plaque with the Foundation name, and the name of the 2018 winning team, and we look forward to updating it on the 22nd of January each year, as this event becomes a permanent fixture.

The CRBF 1st X1

 Mitchell Rice-Brading (C)

Cameron McLean (VC)

Tom Sutcliffe

Isaac Crawford

Robin Evans

Will Yeaman

Stephen Salakas

Henry Munns

Lachie Swaney

Will Sutcliffe

Will Mallett

Sam Isherwood

Josh Craig

The CRBF All-Stars

Will Todd  (C)

Fionn Geraghty (VC)

Alex Powys

Tommy Arms

Tom Chichester

Darcy Cordell

Will Lawrance

Finn Lindstrom

Gus McGrath

James Mahony Brack

Max Patterson

Alex Powys

Tom Miller

Will Simpson

As an aside boys, the bar has been set very high for next year, as one of your team mates not only played, but arrived bearing a chocolate mud cake (Coops all- time favourite cake) which HE had baked earlier that day!  Joe Mackie you are a star! And you have begun a tradition which I for one, would like to see gain momentum.  The team managers, Luke Colbron, Alec Sheldon and Joshua Craig, also receive a special mention for their great work in warming up, hydrating the boys, and game strategies.  Thank you all.

The volunteers were the backbone of the day, with the Todd family, Robin, James, Tommy and Will, putting in a super human effort, which will take weeks to wear off.  Without the love, support and the drive of this family, the match would not have taken place.  Together with the Todd family, I would like to thank my ever supportive brother Grant who flew in from Melbourne for the day with Cooper’s very special cousin, Jemima, Coop’s grandfather, Robert Brading and Robin Salter who travelled from Canberra to assist, Sorabh Araya,(photographer), Julie Hanley, Lucy, Jack, Jane and Phil Baker, Sue Geraghty, Amanda Digby, Nancy Bennett, Alison Craig, Fiona Beith, Ross McLean, (scorer), Peter Salakas, Susan & Ross Bateman, Alan Campbell (ground prep), Luke Bennett, Hal Lindstrom (umpire) Annie Goodwin, Charlotte Smith, and Dan (bar) Jeremy Sutcliffe, (scorer) Graham and Lisa Nicols, (gate and barbecue) Louise Glen, and Martin Rossleigh,(gate).  These outstanding individuals worked so very hard to make the day a success, and words simply do not seem enough to express our gratitude.

The success of an event such as this, with such a small lead in of ten days, is reliant upon the attendees.  To this end, a huge thank you to each of you, for participating in whatever capacity.  Without your attendance, it would have still been a great cricket match, but without the atmosphere, and the love and support the 200 strong crowd, provided for the players, for one another, and for the Foundation bearing Cooper’s name.

Finally, the team at CRBF would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to our event partners, Ties and Cuffs, The wonderful staff at Lake Cooper Wines, together with their superb wines, Easts Dolphins Cricket Club, Driver Avenue Group, Costume Box, Albion Sports Protection & Team-wear.

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