Laura came to know Childhood Cancer Support through her relationships with some of our young residents, who are keen netball fans. Seeing the benefit and incredible services that Childhood Cancer Support have on offer, alongside the impact childhood cancer has on regional families, Laura was keen to get on board. Having grown up in the small town of Allora on the Darling Downs, Laura loves chatting with our families about living in the country.
Laura Geitz is one of the most regarded female role models in Australian sport. In 2019 Netball Queensland recognised the enormous contribution that Laura made to the game of netball, naming their prestigious annual Most Valuable Player Award the Laura Geitz Medal.
Laura retired from netball in 2018, having established herself as one of Australia’s greatest players. Competing in two successful Netball World Cup campaigns, winning a Commonwealth Games gold and two silver medals and leading the Queensland Firebirds to domestic Championship titles in 2015 and 2016. Laura forged a consistent and highly distinguished international career with the Diamonds over a ten year period from 2008. In 2013 she was announced as only the second Queenslander to captain Australia’s most successful women’s sporting team in history. Taking a break from the game in 2016 to have her first child Barney Ross Gilbride, Laura triumphantly returned to the game to represent Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Laura grew up in the small country town of Allora on the Darling Downs where she loves to return and spend time with her family. She has strong family values and is well known for her modest and humble ways. She runs a successful business, with fellow Firebird and Diamond, Clare McMeniman offering high performance coaching clinics to aspiring young athletes through their hugely successful “Fuel2Fly” program.
Laura enjoys working with her corporate partners – Suncorp, Go Healthy, Queensland Country Health Fund, Chemist Warehouse and Tribal Sport whose values are reflective of her healthy lifestyle, love of netball, great outdoors and family. Laura’s depth of knowledge, popularity and charisma have recently secured her commentator roles with Netball Australia, Channel 9 and NewsCorp.
In 2019, Laura and husband Mark welcomed the arrival of their second son Frank Gilbride. In 2021 they welcomed their third child and first daughter, Billie May.
› 71 Caps for Australia
› 169 Caps for Queensland
› 3 Commonwealth Games (Gold and 2 Silver medals)
› 2 World Championships (Gold medals)
› 2013 – 2016 Captain of the Australian Diamonds
› 2013 – 2016 Captain of the Queensland Firebirds
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
› 2011 Awarded the prestigious Liz Ellis Diamond
Josie combines fifteen years of corporate experience with two decades of coaching and consulting to corporate executives, entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. She has held senior positions at BHP and is a multi-award winning coach, international speaker, author, single mother and two-time cancer survivor.
Over the years, Josie has proven herself a dedicated and generous supporter of Childhood Cancer Support, taking every opportunity to fundraise and spread good news about who we are and what we do.
Alongside being a proud Corporate Ambassador for Childhood Cancer Support, Josie has won numerous global awards including the Gold Stevie Award for Maverick of the Year (Difference Maker) for 2014 and 2015, and she received an Award for Global Humanitarian in 2019.
A portion of Josie’s proceeds from her inspiring and motivational products return to Childhood Cancer Support. You can view her story and her videos and interviews here.
Brisbane Family Ambassadors
Angela and Mick Watego are from Manly West in Brisbane. Mick works as a Campground Maintenance Manager over at beautiful Stradbroke Island. Angela has a background in office administration and as recently graduated from study with a Diploma of Nursing. Angela is looking forward to a new career direction, to give back with quality nursing like their son received.
They have two children – Byron and Makhiyah. Byron was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in 2008 at 17 months of age and relapsed again in 2013 requiring a bone marrow transplant.
During their 11 year journey they have been closely associated with Childhood Cancer Support, finding the variety of services offered by Childhood Cancer Support as well as being with other families experiencing similar situations very supportive and therapeutic for the whole family.
Byron recently celebrated 5 years cancer free since transplant and the Watego family are looking forward to being a part of Childhood Cancer Support’s Ambassador program. They are honoured to be giving back to such an amazing organisation and to providing support to the families involved with Childhood Cancer Support.
Bundaberg Family Ambassador
Ruth began her association with Childhood Cancer Support in January 2017 when she and her family moved into the Herston long-term units for six months while her son received treatment at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane. They appreciated the home-away-from-home accommodation, and the connections made with other families through regularly hosted events onsite, and invitations to special events such as the EKKA Family Day, Camp Crystal and the Childhood Cancer Support Christmas party. They experienced first-hand the care and commitment that Childhood Cancer Support provides to the many regional families affected by a childhood cancer diagnosis.
Since then, Ruth and her son have been supported by Childhood Cancer Support with accommodation at the short-term housing facility at Woolloongabba and this has cemented Ruth’s commitment to Childhood Cancer Support in providing support to regional families. From being a family receiving support, Ruth is humbled to now being able to offer support to the families in her local Bundaberg region as a Childhood Cancer Support Family Ambassador.
Cairns Family Ambassadors
Our family first became aware of and involved with Childhood Cancer Support in October 2018 when our 13 year old son, Hudson, was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.
We live in Cairns and we had travelled to Townsville for Hudson to see a paediatric urologist in October 2018 never expecting that they would find and identify a tumour. Hudson was then airlifted to the Queensland Children’s Hospital and we had not thought beyond getting
him to Brisbane for medical treatment. A few days after we got Hudson settled in hospital Childhood Cancer Support made contact and offered us long term accommodation whilst we
were in Brisbane. We had no idea that Childhood Cancer Support existed or what their role was in supporting regional families whose children are suffering from cancer. We were
amazed that Childhood Cancer Support not only offered us accommodation but we were able to walk into the fully furnished unit and make it our own without any cost – a home away from home. This had a tremendous impact upon us – it allowed us to focus our energy on supporting Hudson and relieved us of the pressure that would have otherwise been felt trying to rent accommodation in Brisbane whilst also paying a mortgage in Cairns.
Not only did Childhood Cancer Support provide for us physically, they provided us with a community, somewhere we felt we belonged and supported. Having other families present on site who are undergoing similar journeys and the opportunity for the children to make and keep connections was also vital. Being so far away from home leaves you disconnected from family and friends at a time in life where you need to draw upon the strength of others and it can leave you feeling isolated and lonely. Childhood Cancer Support provides access to a social worker, creates opportunities to get to know staff and to develop relationships with other families whether this be talking to your neighbours or going to specifically organised events put on by Childhood Cancer Support – e.g. Christmas parties, Halloween party, looking at Christmas lights, family BBQ’s; weekly coffee, cake and catch-up sessions.
Rick is a clinical nurse working with post-acute patients and Stacey is a psychologist working with children and families. We are both honoured to be Family Ambassadors for Childhood Cancer Support in Cairns. We will never be able to thank Childhood Cancer Support enough
for the love, care and support they provided to our family during the most difficult time in our lives and we want to give back to Childhood Cancer Support and to families whom will need their assistance moving forward.
Living in a regional area means children still have to go to Brisbane when they are diagnosed with cancer for specialist treatment. This means the separation of families for lengthy periods of time as one parent often has to stay behind and work and the other is needed in Brisbane to support their child. Siblings are also often separated and extended family may not be accessible. By supporting Childhood Cancer Support we can continue to help these families so they don’t feel so alone and overwhelmed and so they can invest all of their energy into their child who is in the fight for their life.
Gold Coast Family Ambassadors
Stuart and Leanne Love are parents to 3 children – Mishae, Jacob and Emma. Stuart and Leanne operate their own business, a Registered Training Organisation Aurora Training Institute, that assists Queenslanders achieve nationally recognised qualifications to help gain employment or advance their careers.
Their first contact with Childhood Cancer Support was in 2010 after Emma was diagnosed with a Rhabdomyosarcoma in her head and neck. Over the next 2.5 years Emma endured 15 surgeries, 14 different chemotherapy rounds and 55 hits of radiation. Needless to say, the Love Family spent quite a lot of time away from home and found the services provided by Childhood Cancer Support invaluable.
Stuart and Leanne have been fundraising for Childhood Cancer Support for over 8 years now through charity lunches and The Ride for Love, now an annual event partnership between the Gold Coast HOG Chapter and Childhood Cancer Support.
Mackay Family Ambassador
Bert has been a Family Ambassador for the Mackay region for 7 years. He is involved in expanding the awareness of Childhood Cancer Support through events such as Camp Crystal, Coffee Cake & Chat, Mackay Charity Ride, Mackay Regional Childhood Cancer Support Christmas Party, The Rotary Great Community fundraiser.
Past events being Mackay Raft Race, 1KG Challenge. This year we have added two new events which are supporting Childhood Cancer Support being Postie Bike Safari and Rumble on the Reef.
Mackay Family Ambassador
In March 2017, our life was turned upside down when our then 2 year old Kacey was diagnosed with Leukaemia. The very day we flew down to Brisbane a friend of my Mum’s told us to contact Childhood Cancer Support, not knowing how much of a support they would be. Childhood Cancer Support gave my family a roof over their head while we navigated those first rough days of diagnosis.
After frontline treatment, Childhood Cancer Support helped us with accommodation and transport on our many, many trips back to Brisbane from Mackay. For over a year and a half until Kacey rang the bell in October 2019, it was always a highlight to come back and see everyone in the Childhood Cancer Support office and possibly meet new families in short stay. My husband David and I are passionate about meeting other oncology families, sharing stories and support where needed. Once we approached a family in a cafe as we recognised them and they were so grateful to have an understanding ear. In Mackay we have enjoyed many Childhood Cancer Support meet ups, whether coffee and chats at the hospital or events like Christmas parties and fundraisers. It’s great seeing old friends and bittersweet making new oncology friends.
I’m hoping that Mackay families can meet more often and make connections. I believe there is nothing more important then talking with those who have walked familiar paths and I feel it is healing and helpful in many ways.
Our Kacey is now 7 and in Grade 2. She loves a chat, she is empathetic, loving and brazen. After a few years of asking, she finally became a big sister last year. Her little sister Charli just turned 1 and has been some much-needed sunshine for the three of us after the trauma of childhood cancer. Kacey doesn’t remember a lot, which we are thankful for, but is still seeing the oncologist 6 monthly although routine bloods have stopped. Hooray!
Mackay Family Ambassador
Sophie is a busy working Mum of two, Web Designer, Support Worker and Yoga Teacher.
In 2016 her son Cade was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia) just after his 4th birthday. While Cade went through the initial intense treatment at Queensland Children’s Hospital, Childhood Cancer Support provided them with the necessary long-term and then short-term accommodation every 3 months for the next 3 ½ years.
Sophie felt incredibly supported by Childhood Cancer Support throughout the journey from airport drop-offs and pick-ups, friendly faces to have a coffee and chat with and always a homely place to stay. The Childhood Cancer Support team made Sophie feel part of their family and having that support made all the difference to navigating the treatment process in another city. Sophie and Cade did the trips alone leaving her husband and daughter behind but knowing how well they were looked after gave everyone at home peace of mind. Sophie and her family have attended many Childhood Cancer Support events where they have met and made some amazing friends over the years.
Sophie has always wanted to give back to the charity that supported her family and has been able to help out with local events whenever possible. Her husband Shane has also helped provide signed NRL shirts which have been auctioned and raffled to raise funds for Childhood Cancer Support. She is honoured to become an Ambassador for the Mackay region and to help continue the charity’s awareness and support of paediatric oncology families.
South Burnett Family Ambassador
Casey and her 3 children moved into Childhood Cancer Support’s Herston units on Christmas
Eve 2009. Her family stayed with Childhood Cancer Support for 8 months while her youngest child, Logan, received treatment at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. On return to Mackay, Casey was approached to help run the Mackay Raft Race, which she did from 2010 to 2017 and has collectively helped raise over $100,000.
Casey was P & C President for 6 years and heavily involved in her local community from Hall committees to Fishing competitions while living in the Mackay district.
In 2019 she moved her family to the South Burnett region to be closer to her family. Her goal is to establish a South Burnett support group in the region for other families who have travelled the cancer journey with their child.
Moving to a position on the Board has always been a long-term goal of Casey’s. She is a member of the Family Services sub-committee and is a huge advocate for kids with cancer and the long-term effects it has on the child and the family. Casey’s long-term goals on the board are to complete the Childhood Cancer Support family units establishment on the southside of Brisbane within walking distanced to the QCH.
Logan is currently entering his 11th year of cancer free living and Casey’s 12th year of advocating for Childhood Cancer Support.
Townsville Family Ambassadors
Tracey and Trevor Rethamel from sunny Townsville are proud parents to their 3 gorgeous daughters (Chloe, Sophie and Lucy). Tracey works as a primary school teacher and Trevor is a WHS advisor/project manager. The pair lead busy lives with their active daughters aged between 13 and 22, but love spending time catching up with friends and family and supporting the Cowboys at their home games.
Unfortunately, the Rethamel’s know the devastation of cancer better than most, with Tracey herself surviving osteosarcoma cancer as a teenager which resulted in a below knee amputation followed by 18 months of chemotherapy. In addition, in 2014 their youngest daughter Lucy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). The words “your child has cancer” are words that no parent should ever have to hear. She was 8 years old. For 9 continuous months, Lucy had to endure life saving treatment in Brisbane.
Their home away from home during this time was Childhood Cancer Support in Herston. It was during their stay that the Rethamel’s say they came to realise what a unique and essential organisation Childhood Cancer Support is to families of children diagnosed with cancer. “I dare not imagine what our experience would have been like without Childhood Cancer Support and its’ support”, says Tracey. “Not only were we provided with the comfort of a fully furnished 2 bedroom unit, but there were numerous other support facilities available when we needed them”.
During their 9 months with Childhood Cancer Support, Tracey says their family was fortunate to meet some incredibly courageous children, and their families. “They, as well as the staff of Childhood Cancer Support, became like family to us. In fact, we like to call these friends our Childhood Cancer Support family”.
Now that the Rethamel family are back home in Townsville, they are on hand to assist other childhood oncology families when they return home. The Rethamels hope that through their ambassador role, they can create much-needed awareness about Childhood Cancer Support in their local community and raise vital funds for the organisation. “We are committed in doing this, so that other families like ours, continue to receive the support and stability that are so valuable at such a desperate time”.