Kate is a mother and the Chair of the Parents Advisory Group for the Children’s Cancer Centre here at the RCH, she sat down with us this week and spoke about navigating the complex path of childhood cancer and what she would say to younger women wanting to enter the advocacy space.
Tell us about your RCH journey.
Our son David was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a couple of weeks after his third birthday. It has been a gruelling treatment process, both in terms of time as well as the devastating long-term consequences of treatment. I have often said that there isn’t a department we haven’t been involved with at RCH and it definitely became our home away from home. Childhood cancer is such a difficult journey for the whole family, from long periods of time away from each other to missing significant milestones for his siblings but there isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t incredibly grateful that we still have him and that we have come out the other side
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day for me is about recognition and gratitude for the women that have come before me in changing the world but also in reflecting on where we are and just how much work we still need to do to achieve true equality.
Which women are you inspired by?
Where to start! At the moment I am loving Jacinda Ardern who is living proof that a career and motherhood are not mutually exclusive! I have been reading a lot of Roxane Gay’s work and she inspires me by making me think about the world differently and I am still in awe at the work of Tarana Burke in bringing the #MeToo movement into the light.
What is one of your greatest achievements?
Navigating the complex path of childhood cancer.
And what are you hoping one of your next achievements will be?
One of the things about being a mother of a child with a life-threatening disease is that it’s hard not to lose your identity as your life becomes about saving your child. This next phase is about trying to find the balance a bit better.
What are different ways you like to empower women in your everyday life?
I think empowering is about connection, so I try and be mindful of always nurturing my relationships with the women in my life. Empowering also involves respect, empathy and understanding and so I try to incorporate those values in my everyday life too.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would be?
I would tell my younger self that it may not always be easy to stand up and speak out for what’s important to you, but it’s so important to and when you do it is incredibly empowering.
What would you say to younger women aspiring to enter the advocacy space?
I would say to younger woman that you never know who needs to hear your story and in turn who will be inspired/changed/impacted by it. There is value in your experience and your voice is important