By Samuel Smith
Published: Friday, May 31, 2019
Night is falling on the Yorke Peninsula, cloaking the wild waters and rugged cliffs of Innes National Park in a veil of darkness. Twenty-year-old Emily Costello stands on the beach, casting her eyes back along the clifftops. During the last 4 days, she’s come a long way.
Emily has just completed a 4-day, 3-night therapeutic camp for young South Australians affected by cancer.
In April 2019, the CanTeen Adventure Program saw 35 members trek along the Yorke Peninsula’s coast, rock climbing, hiking, camping and – most importantly – connecting.
The camp is one of many open to all SA CanTeen members, free of charge. For Emily, it was an invaluable experience.
“When cancer comes into your world, it really does shake things up and it can really affect how you see yourself,” she said.
“I believe that these trips not only help you reconnect with yourself, but also empower you. The Adventure Program supports you to see how resilient you are and restores your faith in your abilities.”
In 2006, Emily’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tragically, she lost her battle towards the end of 2007, just 2 months after Emily’s 9th birthday.
In 2013, Emily’s grandma was also diagnosed – it’s at this point that she and her sister were referred to CanTeen.
Since 1985, CanTeen has supported young South Australians aged between 12 and 25 who’ve had their lives turned upside down by cancer. All services are free of charge, ranging from camps and recreational outings to leadership programs, specialised hospital services, counselling and 24/7 support.
Canteen community and partnerships manager Cara Finneran said CanTeen’s range of camps and programs all had a key focus to connect young people to each other.
“On a personal level, programs give young people both a break from cancer and give them time to work through whatever they’re feeling,” she said.
“[They provide] opportunities to connect with peers, improve emotional wellbeing, build resilience and [enhance] coping skills needed to manage each individual’s cancer journey.”
The Adventure Program gave Emily an opportunity to reconnect with her passions as well as her peers.
“I love the outdoors and exploring the natural world,” she said.
“It helps me put things into perspective and see what I truly value. I also enjoy connecting with new people and reconnecting with old friends.
“Adventure camp seemed [like] the perfect place to bring many of my passions together.”
As this year’s camp drew to a close, Emily took some time to reflect.
“On our last night, we stood on the beach and were able to see where we had begun on the first day. [When we] saw all that we had accomplished, it was beautiful.”
RAA are regional member partners of CanTeen. Our community sponsorship program helps 40 youngsters from regional centres attend programs by paying for their transport, accommodation and meals.