How do you say “thank you” for getting your young life back?
Anya Zuber plans to walk.
Two years ago, as a 13 year old PLC student, Anya was diagnosed with high-grade osteosarcoma, a life threatening bone cancer that had spread to her lungs.
Later this month, as a lively 15 year old, she and ‘Team Anya’ will take part in the 26-kilometre Bob ‘Tug’ Wilson Walk For Kids With Cancer on behalf of the Westmead Children’s Hospital.
The walk will be a deep expression of gratitude from Anya and her family to the medical team and the technologies that restored her health, and a means of helping other kids who, like Anya, hear the shocking news that they have a life-threatening disease.
For Anya, turning around that terrible diagnosis meant limb-saving surgery that removed most of her femur and part of her tibia and replaced them with titanium implants. Supported by her family who relocated from Armidale to be with her, Anya spent 18 months in treatment at Westmead Children’s Hospital.
She underwent intensive chemotherapy the whole time, had two major surgeries, and three months of high-dose radiation on her left leg.
Anya’s treatment was directed by Professor Stewart Kellie, at the Cancer Centre for Children, who will be closely supervise her recovery for the next five to seven years.
Anya herself had to develop a mental and physical toughness beyond her years to deal with the diagnosis and treatment, which has been invaluable as she continues with the healing supported by a regular physiotherapy program, daily training on a stationary bike and long weekend walks with her family.
For her part, she is just delighted for the things that most 15-year-olds take for granted: to be home, back at school amongst friends, and getting on with ‘normal’ teenage life.
Anya sees The ‘Tug’ Wilson Walk as a means of giving other kids with a cancer diagnosis a chance to rediscover the immense pleasures of normalcy.
‘We've pulled together a team of sixteen family members and close friends to walk 26km on March 26, as a practical way of saying thank you to this amazing service for families like ours,” said Anya. “We have raised more than $8,000 already!”
Anya’s mother, Liz Egan, said the walk is also a way of expressing the family’s gratitude to the oncology team at Westmead Children's Hospital.
“These extraordinary people supported us during Anya's 18 months of treatment and will continue to follow up with her for the next five to seven years,” Ms Egan said.
“It is immensely rewarding be giving back in some small way to people whose lives are dedicated to saving the lives of our kids.”
“We’ve had a great response from our community to our fundraising for the walk. In particular, we’d love to acknowledge Regional Express Airlines, who’ve assisted by donating four return tickets towards our campaign. REX have been incredibly generous to our family over the past few years. Yet again they’ve come to the party and extended their support to regional families like ours.”
The Walk for Kids with Cancer was started by the late Bob ‘Tug’ Wilson who, suffering from terminal cancer, decided to do something for the ‘young ones’. His mantra: “I’ve lived a good life, theirs is just beginning”, rings true for many of our participants.
The 26 kilometre walk route skirts Sydney Harbour, taking in sites like Bradleys Head, Balmoral Esplanade, Clontarf Reserve and Sydney Harbour National Park. It finishes at picturesque Manly Beach.
If you’d like to show your support to ‘Team Anya’ and this extraordinary service for regional kids with cancer, visit: https://walk17.everydayhero.com/au/team-anya