CanTeen provides hope for youth
MATT was just 13 when he lost his nine-year-old sister to bone cancer.
He remembers her being diagnosed with cancer in her leg and given just months to live.
"The chemo started and my mum and step-dad were taking shifts in the hospital looking after her," he recalls.
"It got to the point where it was a couple of months, then a couple of weeks later it was a couple of weeks and it just got lower and lower until it was a day or two and the whole family was in the hospital waiting."
Matt's friend Hannah, also 15, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma when she was nine.
"I had 12 months of intensive chemo and halfway through I had my hip to knee replaced with a titanium ceramic rod," she explains.
Hannah is now in remission and undergoes regular tests.
While the experience was painful, CanTeen provided the support both teens needed.
The pair, now both aged 15, are among 70 young people from southern Queensland taking part in a peer support program on the Sunshine Coast.
"CanTeen's been my second family," a tearful Matt said.
"They've always been there for me, when I lost friends I gained friends from here. We call it the vibe because everyone understand everything that happens. It's just one united family, old or young."
CanTeen Queensland division manager Peter McGlennon said CanTeen provided a valuable service for young people living with cancer.
"They can get away from the stresses of everyday life and have some fun with other young people."