Most 16 year old boys are enjoying their summer holidays, playing beach cricket with mates and if lucky enough, watching a game at the Sydney Cricket Ground. But for 16 year old Nicholas McKenzie, an avid cricket fan, who was diagnosed with an Osteogenic Sarcoma in September 2017 he has spent his summer undergoing treatment surrounded by patients less than half his age at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.
Nicholas is sadly one of over 1200 young people diagnosed nationally with cancer each year known as the ‘forgotten generation’ who are falling through the gaps in our medical system, too old for children’s wards and too young to be alongside the elderly and dying in adults wards. Patients aged between 15 and 25 have significantly poorer survival rates than children and older adults due to a lack of access to age appropriate care.
But thanks to support from BBL Team Sydney Sixers, charity partners of Sony Foundation’s You Can initiative, the future of youth cancer care is set to change. Sydney Sixers hosted a chairty BBL twilight match on Tuesday January 23rd at the SCG for You Can – a national fundraising campaign set up by Sony Foundation Australia in 2010. Its aim is to build specialised youth cancer centres and services around Australia to address the current gap in the health care system.
Sydney Sixers players wore with pride, special jerseys honouring young cancer patients and survivors with three powerful words of meaning emblazoned on the back from the young person they were playing for. 13 young people with cancer shared the three words that have helped them get through the toughest challenge of their life.
Nicholas’ words of FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS worn by Sixers captain and Nicholas’ favourite player, Moises Henriques on Tuesday night. Following the game, the jerseys were available to purchase via silent auction with an incredible amount of over $9700 raised for You Can!
During his time at Sydney Sixers, current Australian cricket Captain Steve Smith became so connected to You Can after meeting many of the young people year on year that he became an official Ambassador for Sony Foundation in 2015.
“I’m so proud to be a Sony Foundation ambassador and remember the Sydney Sixers charity matches as always being really special. Over the years, I’ve met some incredible young patients who have shown me how important You Can is in supporting young people with cancer to make sure they have the best possible chance of living their life.” said Steve Smith, Sony Foundation Ambassador and Australian Cricket Captain
Funds raised from the charity match will help to establish more youth cancer centres around Australia with the first NSW You Can Centre set to open late 2018 at Prince of Wales Hospital Randwick. To date, Sony Foundation has opened two You Can Centres at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth and at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.
Sophie Ryan, CEO Sony Foundation says, “We are proud of the impact made to date, yet there is still much more to be done. With each contribution made at The Sydney Sixer Charity Match on Tuesday Jan 23, we are one step closer to diminishing this gap in care and ensuring that You Can Centres, services, resources and ultimately, the survival rates for 15-25 year old cancer patients are vastly improved.”
The centres and services facilitated by ‘You Can’ aim to provide an improvement in survival rates by enabling the collaboration of medical experts, the development of specialised treatments and the opportunity for young people to be amongst peers in an encouraging environment. The Sydney You Can Centre is set to open late 2018 at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick.
To read more on Nicholas and the Sydney Sixers You Can match, click HERE