11 May 2020

An orange bandanna is Chantelle's symbol of hope

| Lachlan Roberts
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Chantelle Pellegrini

Chantelle is now a CanTeen youth ambassador after the support organisation helped her after her father died. Photos: Supplied.

When 13-year-old Chantelle Pellegrini was told in January 2012 that her Dad had a brain tumour, she thought her father would be back at home cooking or working in the vegetable garden just like he always had. That the doctors would do some surgery, they would give her Dad some pills and life would go back to normal

“It was completely the opposite,” Chantelle shared. “My dad was never the same again. I was used to coming home from school to see my Dad cooking in the kitchen or working in the vegetable garden. But once he got sick, he didn’t even enjoy the things he liked because he was so sick.”

Her father underwent treatment after treatment, surgery after surgery as he quickly deteriorated. After an unsuccessful brain operation, he came out of surgery unable to talk or walk. He was like that for nine months, until he died on 18 May 2014.

Chantelle said the only thing that helped her cope or understand her grief was CanTeen, and she only became aware of CanTeen when her Mum found a brochure in the hospital waiting room.

“All I can remember about the brochure was that all the people on the front of it looked like they were having a good time,” Chantelle told Region Media. “CanTeen has really been the light at the end of the tunnel.

“It has given me hope and it has helped me use my horrible experience into a way to help others.”

Chantelle with her Dad

Chantelle with her Dad.

Chantelle started attending CanTeen’s Good Grief program, which is specifically designed to support young people whose family member has died from cancer. Helping her to comprehend her grief and making sure she didn’t feel alone, Chantelle said CanTeen has taught her many life lessons.

“No one really wants to talk about cancer because it is such a hard topic to talk about but it is important to,” she said. “My Dad’s cancer has taught me to appreciate the moment and to take every opportunity because you don’t know when it will be taken away from you.”

Fast forward to today, and 20-year-old Chantelle will join thousands of volunteers who will take to the streets selling bandannas to spread the word about how CanTeen can help young people through their cancer journey.

Bandanna Day on 25 October marks the 25th anniversary of CanTeen’s iconic fundraiser, an annual fundraising and awareness campaign that’s raised over $33 million since 1994 to help support young people impacted by cancer.

CanTeen CEO Peter Orchard said Bandanna Day makes a huge contribution to funding ongoing research and critical support services provided to thousands of young Australians every year.

“CanTeen provides young people with a supportive outlet that helps them explore and deal with their feelings about cancer, connect with others going through a similar experience, as well as providing specialist youth-specific treatment for young people dealing with their own diagnosis,” Mr Orchard said.

“Every single day more than 60 young people aged between 12 and 25 will face cancer in one way or another. For 25 years, Australians have come together on Bandanna Day to show their support for young people impacted by cancer.”

Click here to find out how you can donate to CanTeen or here to see how you can help on Bandanna Day.

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