Local mum and teacher Kristy Giteau, supported by a range of good-hearted ambassadors including her brother, rugby great Matt Giteau, is organising a virtual walk to Sydney to help raise money for meals for parents who don't want to leave the bedside of their child being treated in interstate hospitals for cancer.
Kristy knows the feeling all too well of not wanting to leave her child in hospital for even a moment, even if it means not eating herself.
Her daughter Ka'ili was diagnosed with the rare Wilms' tumour in her kidney in July 2019. The six-year-old is now, thankfully, cancer-free and improving every day.
But like all child oncology patients, Ka'ili had to travel to Sydney for her essential treatment and Kristy did not want to leave her bedside for a moment.
"When you go to Sydney and you're with your child, and they see so many foreign people, and they give you those puppy dog eyes, you just cannot leave them," she said.
"The only place you will go is the communal kitchen which offers free tea or coffee but not meals. It's hard because every minute of every day you stay in hospital with your child, yet you are not provided with a meal so the default is not just eating.
"If you're not looking after yourself, you're likely to get an illness, and if that happens in an oncology ward, you're asked to leave. And you can't do what you wanted to do, which is look after your sick child.
"So it really has a flow-on effect because carers need to look after themselves to do the best job they can do. I really didn't eat. I lived off coffee because I thought, 'I can't leave her'."
The event, called Chase the Rainbow, will encourage people to virtually walk from the Canberra Hospital to the Sydney Children's Hospital through the month of November.
It's a 300km walk but teams or individuals can try to walk the distance as many times as they like during the month.
Registration is $30 and will cover two meals for the parent or carer of an oncology patient. Fundraising during the walk will also help the donated meals to add up.
Kristy is running the event through the charity she set up called Win the Day to help other families struggling with a loved one who has a rare cancer.
Early registration for the virtual walk opens tomorrow at https://win-the-day-charity.grassrootz.com/
Kristy, a teacher at Queanbeyan South Public School, said Ka'ili was "doing so well" after receiving her treatment in Sydney.
"We have been home for probably close to four months [from Sydney] and just having check-ups in Canberra," she said.
"She had her central line out, so that was a huge hurdle for us. So she's having baths and other things she hasn't had to do for 15 months. We are really winning each and every day at the moment and it is the small things that just mean the world.
"She's so excited to have the energy to 'chase the rainbow' too."
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