An oversized uniform and a backpack that's far too heavy for a five-year-old is a sight that brings tears to most parents' eyes in those first days of the school year.
But for Kristy Giteau and Soakai Tai, February 3 was more magical and emotional than most, and a day that they had been dreaming about for years.
They had just received word that their daughter, Ka'ili - affectionately known as Kak, was presenting cancer-free, following an intense two-year battle with a rare kidney cancer, and was taking her first steps into kindergarten.
When Ka'ili hopped in the car after her enormous first day, her words were a dream come true for her parents.
"She said, 'Mummy, I've got a BFF ... I've got a bestie', which for oncology kids is so special. They can't make friends in the ward," Ms Giteau said.
For Ms Giteau (sister of rugby union legend Matt Giteau), the journey alongside her daughter, where she connected with other families, nurses and specialists, left her shocked by the lack of funding and support available for families of children with rare childhood cancers.
So, Win The Day was born - a charity aimed at providing support for those families in the form of financial assistance, meal kits and accommodation support.
Win The Day will be hosting its inaugural Gala fundraiser at the National Arboretum on October 15, with ambassadors including Lance "Buddy" Franklin and wife Jesinta making a special appearance.
The star-studded event will also be attended by champion paralympian Ellie Cole, Canberra Raiders hero Josh Papalii and Ka'ili's doting uncle Matt Giteau, all ambassadors of Win The Day, who have all followed Ka'ili's journey from day dot.
It all started on July 25, 2019, when Ka'ili complained of a sore tummy. The family could never have imagined the journey that lay ahead.
A whirlwind trip to their GP and on to Sydney Children's hospital left them with a crushing diagnosis - that Ka'ili had a Stage 4 Wilms Tumour the size of a rockmelon on her right kidney.
Six months of chemotherapy, hospital stays, tests and scans bought the news that Ka'ili was appearing cancer-free, but by June, 2020, they were dealt the blow that she had relapsed.
As they headed into the meeting on January 19, 2021, to find out the news of Ka'ilis latest test results, Ms Giteau described the moment as one of mixed emotions.
"We were optimistic but cautiously aware that it could be good news, or it could go the other way," she said.
The family celebrated in the best way possible, surprising Ka'ili with a massive sleepover with her cousins, where they danced the night away.
"She was stoked. We told her that it was her bad cells hugging and she asked me 'Mummy, have my bad cells gone to sleep?'," she said.
For now, the family is taking each day as it comes, settling back into the new normal life at home and celebrating the little things that are too often taken for granted.
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