Cancer survivor takes on Kili for the kids
RHYS Greedy conquered cancer seven years ago and now he is set to summit Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to honour children like Brodie Tedeschi who are now facing their own epic battle.
The Caloundra 28-year-old will carry photos of young patients at Nambour Hospital’s paediatric ward 2F West in his pack as he climbs the 6000m up Africa’s highest mountain next week in just under four days.
After setting an initial fundraising goal of $10,000 in November last year, Rhys announced $20,644 had been raised to enhance distraction therapy for the young patients.
Around $8000 has already been spent on 10 portable DVD players for young inpatients, 10 Samsung galaxy tablets, a television for the unit’s play room and a new Xbox console with games.
Rhys said the remaining money was in the hands of Wishlist and was “at the ward’s disposal for further upgrades or to help fund their available therapies including music, yoga and education.”
The cause is close to the former soldier’s heart after being diagnosed in 2009, at age 21, with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
After rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, Rhys beat the disease and has since made it his duty to fundraise by embarking on gruelling expeditions.
To date, this has included a 17-day self-funded trek to the Annapurna Base camp in Nepal and France’s Mont Blanc in 2015, where he raised $15,000 for Lymphoma Australia.
This year, he is embarking on the journey to Kilimanjaro with a team of six, ranging in ages from 22 to 44.
Rhys said he was a firm believer in fate. He had initially approached the Nambour Hospital with a view to visit young oncology patients, but had been directed to paediatrics by a sign.
“It took me just three minutes after I walked through those doors to know who I wanted to reach out to and raise some money for,” he said.
"I wanted to achieve a physical challenge to not only raise much-needed funds for the unit, but to bring awareness to the inspiration and also suffering that takes place behind the walls."
One particular patient still sticks in Rhys’s mind.
"I met an eight-month-old boy who suffers from a terrible condition where he has numerous lesions on his brain, causing him to have regular seizures daily,” he said.
"To see such agony and despair from his mother who doesn't leave his side, was extremely confronting yet motivating for me to complete what I've set out to do."
Rhys has put together a collage of photos of the inspiring children he has met to give him an extra push when the going gets tough on the mountains.
“I have no doubt there will be times when I will be mentally drained and feeling the pinch, but my temporary pain will be completely evaporated when I see their photos and it will be nice to get a photo with them at the top so that, in a way, they will be with me in that special moment,” he said.
“For now, I have been rushing around making sure everyone has the right equipment for the conditions so I have been distracted from my own emotions, they will be kept in check until I check in at the airport and am waiting for departure.
“This is for a purpose much bigger than self-satisfaction and I really can’t see myself doing these trips in the future without having something behind it, because what experienced so far and the support from the Sunshine Coast community to get behind these causes has been amazing.”
Paediatric Ward Nurse Unit Manager Anne-Maree Holmes said Rhys’s generous donation had given young patients the opportunity to have fun during their hospital stay.
"Our patients range from only days of age to 18 years," Ms Holmes said.
"They could be here for an admission with a medical condition - for example diabetes, asthma, vomiting or an infection - or could be in to see a surgeon for appendicitis or broken bones.
"We also care for patients who have an eating disorder or other mental health issues."
"Distraction therapy is a way of helping our patients cope with a painful or difficult procedure. It can also be used if a child is in pain or discomfort or in an unusual environment."
It’s not too late to get on board and support Rhys’ fundraising efforts. Visit https://www.giving.wishlist.org.au/kiliforkids to donate.