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YJA Junior Section Winner

06 August 2019

The winner of the Australian Catholics' Young Journalist Award Junior Section was Jack Webber, St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether, NSW.

Coping with cancer

Growing up, Fiona and Matt lived close by but only their parents knew each other. When Fiona was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 16 and again at 26 she was supported by her parents, sisters and brother.

‘Having my family supporting me through cancer was the most amazing thing and I don’t think that I could have overcome cancer without them.’

While in remission her mum mentioned Matt had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. ‘Over the next 12 months, Matt’s parents would come to my parents for advice’, Fiona says.

Throughout the next year, Fiona wondered how Matt was even though they had never met. Years later they had a chance meeting and hit it off! Matt proposed and they became engaged in 2007.  

‘I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but I can’t help but think it is what led me to Matt – and if that is true then it’s a small sacrifice – because I have the nicest husband.’ Matt had surgery to replace a heart valve, then they married in 2008 and had their first child. When Fiona was late into her second pregnancy Matt had a major stroke. He eventually recovered and retrained in primary teaching.

Fiona had their second child and they started to get back on track.  But then Matt was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had it removed and continued teaching. Through heart surgeries, cancer and stroke Matt remained calm, positive and resilient.  

‘I believe if even just a little of the resilience Matt has shown throughout his life can rub off on his students then they are in for a bright future’, says Fiona.

Fiona feels fortunate to have parents and a husband who have always and continue to instil a sense of empowerment in her. She explains, ‘’That is not to say I always feel confident and strong, however I do always feel loved and supported.’

Fiona’s favourite quote is, ‘cultivating the habit of good deeds will not only affect those around us, it will improve our own emotional wellbeing.’ This expresses that helping each other also helps ourselves. This family inspires me to be resilient when facing challenges.


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