Walking for Celia and Walking4BrainCancer

Lenah Valley couple Kimberley (Bill) Chaumont and Pete Grzonkowski put their best foot forward – several thousand times – last month, so other families won’t have to walk a mile in their shoes.

Pete and Bill’s daughter Celia was a normal, happy, energetic four-year-old, before suddenly getting sick during a regular day at pre-school in May 2016.

Devastatingly for the family, Celia was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – an aggressive, currently incurable type of brain cancer with a five-year survival rate of just two per cent.

Knowing that Celia’s disease was going to be terminal, Bill and Pete decided to make the rest of her life as exciting as possible and spent four months travelling around Europe, including a visit to the top of the Eiffel tower.

Exactly one year after her diagnosis, on 30 May 2017, Celia passed away at home. She was five years old.

To pay tribute to Celia and raise much-needed funds for brain cancer research, Pete and Bill last month embarked on an epic walk from Blundstone Arena all the way to Parliament House, joined by about 15 supporters and several children.

“Obviously we hope that Walking4BrainCancer will help to find a cure,” Bill said.

“That’s number one, and hopefully that happens one day. But it’s also about getting lots more people to know about brain cancer.

“We have had so many people who want to walk with us or have donated, and they didn’t even know our story. Now they’re really interested by it, and I think that’s pretty important because it’s such a rare cancer.

“We want to show a massive amount of appreciation for the people that constantly give. We had people who donated so that we could live our life with Celia, and now they’re donating again to something we feel passionate about. I think it shows what it would mean to them to have a cure too.”

Bill and Pete were thrilled to hear that the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s most recent Early Career Fellowship Grant was given to DIPG researcher Dr. Yolanda Sanguino at the Children’s Cancer Institute.

Dr Sanguino’s winning project focuses on Epigenetic Therapy in DIPG and will generate critical new knowledge on how tumour mutations drive cancer growth, to identify new drug targets and novel therapies for DIPG.

Another Walk4BrainCancer event will be held in Hobart from noon on Sunday 7 November, with participants to take a 2km walk from Dru Point Bicentennial Park along the banks of North West Bay.

There’ll be a raffle and sausage sizzle and a short memorial service will be held before the walk, with paper cranes suspended from a tree in memory of friends and loved ones who have died of brain cancer.

Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk – who has herself twice experienced the fear and uncertainty that comes with a brain tumour diagnosis – encouraged people to sign up for the walk.

“Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania events have so far raised $175,000 for Cure Brain Cancer Foundation,” she said.

“By registering for this seventh Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania or sponsoring a participant, you can help combat a disease that kills more young Australians than any other cancer and more Australian children than any other disease.”

To support Bill and Pete, or sign up for the November walk, go to www.walk4braincancer.com.au

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