Sony Foundation united 1,000 entertainment industry heavyweights on Thursday October 24, 2019 at the iconic Wharf4Ward event to raise a record $1,520,000 to provide much needed relief for regional cancer patients with plans for a 5th You Can youth cancer centre. It will also be the first centre for 15 – 25 year olds to provide accommodation for regional cancer patients and their families at no cost to them.
Alarmingly, one third of youth cancer patients are from regional areas and they are more likely to suffer mental health issues, financial strain and isolation due to the increased burden of seeking life-saving treatment in major cities. Sony Foundation announced that funds raised today will enable the largest ‘You Can’ youth cancer centre at Sydney’s Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, the fifth centre in the national network of You Can Centres by Sony Foundation.
Known as Sydney’s longest lunch, ‘Wharf4Ward’ treated guests to performances by Sony Music artists Tones and I, Jessica Mauboy, Stan Walker, Samantha Jade and Brad Cox and was hosted by Shane Warne, Ben Fordham, Wippa, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Samantha Armytage, Larry Emdur and Angela Bishop. Sony Foundation Ambassadors and Celebrity guests included; Johnathtan Thurston, Lincoln Younes, Angie Kent, Roxy Jacenko, Matt de Groot, Matty J, Natarsha Belling, Richard Reid and Joe Hildebrand, who soaked up the sun on Woolloomooloo Wharf.
When opened, the You Can Centre at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will service 500 adolescent and young adult patients a year through the multi-disciplinary partnership between Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital which sees the largest number of sarcoma patients in New South Wales.
CEO of Sony Foundation, Sophie Ryan said, “12 months ago we saw a gap in services to support regional youth cancer patients and since then we have established a national fertility service and with today’s generosity of $1,520,000, we will be able to provide another You Can Centre and free accommodation in the city for these families to relieve some of this burden.”
“Our whole world was turned upside down overnight. Our daughter was airlifted from Canberra to Sydney and went straight to ICU for the first week of her treatment. We didn’t have any time to organise or even think about where we would live in Sydney for the next year while our daughter received treatment. If there had been appropriate accommodation to move into when we first arrived in Sydney that was close to the hospital, it would have lifted an enormous amount of pressure from our family” said Suzie, Mother of youth cancer patient.
The most inspiring message of the day came from key note speaker, 16 year old, Felicity Hardwick, from Coonamble who has been back and forth to Sydney for the past year undergoing treatment for brain tumours. Felicity spoke to the increased burden stating, “I miss home… like a lot. My family live 500 odd kilometres away. We are also in drought so that means zero dollars for my family to afford accommodation anywhere and the whole point of them visiting is to spend time with me.
A senate inquiry in 2005 revealed a national gap in the health system for tailored treatment and services for 15-25 year olds with cancer. Since then, Sony Foundation’s national youth cancer program ‘You Can’ has committed over $10 million to bridge this gap and change the health care system to meet the needs of 1,200 young people a year diagnosed. To date, Sony Foundation has funded specialised You Can Centres in adult hospitals in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. These are the first youth cancer centres of their kind and are having dramatic positive impacts on patient’s cancer treatment experience. Funding has also supported services and research.