Teens with cancer get free gig tickets
WHEN you have cancer, when your parent has a tumour, when your sibling is going through chemo - some time away can change everything.
It can give hope. Inspiration. Energy. A perspective on life that is far removed from a hospital waiting room or a cold oncology ward.
Add music, and you have a winning combination - just ask the Hilltop Hoods.
The Adelaide hip-hop band has today announced that young Australians dealing with cancer will be able to see their favourite stars perform for free, in their own designated area - and even meet them backstage.
CanTeen's 'Side of Stage' is a new national initiative conceived to give Aussie teens a night off. A night to have fun and forget their worries.
Young people, aged 12-25, could score a ticket to some of the biggest concerts or festivals including Eminem, Amy Shark, Groovin the Moo and Download Festival.
The idea was the brainchild of the band's David Smith, also known as MC Pressure, after his son Liam was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2013, at the age of eight.
"My son went through a battle with leukaemia and it was a real eye opener for me into the life that people lead, particularly from a caregivers view," he said.
"It really does have a flow on effect through family and communities of friends and people who are close to those going through it.
"Music can help people going through a cancer experience on many levels - it is such a big part of people's lives and I think when people are going through a cancer experience they are cut off from society and from doing normal things people need to do to feel happy."
Pressure even wrote 'Through the Dark', a hip hop narrative of his son's illness, spending six months going through chemotherapy and hopes for the future now he is in remission.
"Cancer is something that affects us all at some point in our lives, whether a personal struggle or someone close to us," he said.
"We seek to empower and give strength to the suffering."
That's what Side of Stage will do. Some 23,000 Aussies aged 12-25 are impacted by cancer every year - that's 63 today, another 63 tomorrow, and the day after that. This includes people dealing with having cancer themselves, a friend, parent or sibling with cancer, or the death of a loved one from the insidious disease.
Side of Stage is open to young people aged 12-25 whose lives are currently being impacted by cancer - whether that be through their own diagnosis, or that of a family member - because some days, you just need the music. Find out more here.
Canberra 20-year-old Chantelle Pellegrini joined CanTeen in 2012 when her father was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Two years later, he died.
Today Chantelle celebrated the Side of Stage initiative, and said she was working hard to make him proud.
"At first, I did not realise what cancer was. I just thought it would be something my dad would quickly recover from and life would go back normal," she said.
"The hardest part about seeing my dad die was seeing him change from a strong man into a helpless bedridden man and knowing that I would never see him again and he would miss out on important life events like teaching me to drive, seeing me graduate school or walking me down the aisle for my wedding.
"There are many things that I miss about my dad like his voice, hugs, cooking and advice.
"But I know my dad wouldn't want me to dwell on his death, he would want me to go out and continue to live my life, so I choose to study and work hard to make him proud."
CanTeen CEO Peter Orchard told news.com.au the Hilltop Hoods came to him two years ago with the idea that came to life today.
"They said we want young people dealing with a terrible illness like cancer to be able to go to a concert, meet the artist, get a high profile viewing spot on side of the stage and have and amazing experience," he said.
"We said wow - how brilliant would that be, so we trialled it and the response has been amazing."
He said it was hoped that 1000 Aussie teens would get free concert tickets this year, with the offering set to grow as the program developed.
"Cancer is just so all consuming," Mr Orchard said.
"And to go out for a night or to a music festival to meet your favourite artist and get up close and personal for the sow can be transformative, and create a sense of hope. It can inspire them to keep going on."
He said the tickets were open to all people with a cancer connection, because of the deep-seated effects of cancer on the while family.
"Research shows the impact psychologically on them is huge, and so again the opportunity to step outside the cancer experience the family is going through is critical," he said.
"Sixty three young people every day will get that news - so to have this brilliant experience and meet their favourite artists can be a huge tonic for them as they approach this cancer experience.
"It's extraordinary - and we are so excited and thrilled to go large with it."
Rachel, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma at 17, said there was something about live music that really allowed you to live in the moment.
"These moments are so important for young people who have been affected by cancer," she said.
"In my experience, cancer was not only physically traumatic, but mentally as well.
"During this period in my life, I really had to stay strong and focus on getting through day by day.
"Now, being able to enjoy live music again - something I have always loved doing - allows me to enjoy life to the fullest."