Running for Caleb joins long list of community efforts to help his family

Caleb Wright, pictured on the day he was diagnosed with pineal teratoma, was initially given two weeks to live.
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Caleb Wright, pictured on the day he was diagnosed with pineal teratoma, was initially given two weeks to live.

Two Christchurch sisters will run the ASB Summer Starter to support their nephew's fight against cancer.

Self-declared "couch potatoes" Amanda Rozier and Julie Marshall will strap on their running shoes to raise awareness and money for their nephew, Caleb, 9, who was diagnosed with a pineal teratoma in January.

Since then, Caleb has had 10 operations to remove the tumour likened to "an octopus' tentacles wrapping themselves around different parts of his brain".

Amanda Rozier, left, and her sister, Julie Marshall, who are running the Summer Starter to support their nephew, Caleb ...
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Amanda Rozier, left, and her sister, Julie Marshall, who are running the Summer Starter to support their nephew, Caleb Wright, 9, who has a rare brain cancer.

Radiation and chemotherapy were not options as pineal teratoma quickly matured and would not respond to the treatment.

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Caleb's mother, Jen Wright, said her sisters in law's efforts represented the mammoth response from family, friends, employers and many others when they learned of his plight.

Caleb has had 10 surgeries since being diagnosed in January and is due for one more.
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Caleb has had 10 surgeries since being diagnosed in January and is due for one more.

The support meant each parent could alternate time with Caleb and time at home, as treatment kept him in Auckland, she said.

"I think situations like this either make or break people, and I think a lot of the time the break comes from the fact that one parent's doing the financial side and one parent's looking after the child, and it never gets shared evenly.

"A lot of the time that's because families can't survive unless someone's making money. So all these people who have helped us financially have meant . . . neither of us misses out, Caleb doesn't miss out and our two kids at home get mum and dad equally as well."

Caleb was recently able to catch up with best friend Hunter. The pair have been mates since they were 5.
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Caleb was recently able to catch up with best friend Hunter. The pair have been mates since they were 5.

Rozier and Marshall will run the 10-kilometre Summer Starter course on November 27, in a bid to add one more gesture to the many already made for Caleb.

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The pair had been walking during their lunch breaks and running together in the evening to prepare for the event.

"Mentally it's been really, really helpful. Those endorphins make you feel a bit happier, especially with everything else that's going on as well," Rozier said.

Caleb, with siblings Noah and Brooke, has missed school this year but was invited to be a part of photos to give him ...
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Caleb, with siblings Noah and Brooke, has missed school this year but was invited to be a part of photos to give him back some normality.

"Anything we can do for them, we're always willing to help."

A Givealittle page was set up earlier this year and more than $20,000 had been raised so far, with some donors regularly contributing when they could, Wright said.

She said the family hoped one more surgery for Caleb's vision in the coming months would be his last.

Before his diagnosis, Caleb loved mixed martial arts and motorbikes, but his hobbies and goals would have to change as he recovered.

"It's summer coming up and normally we'd be jumping off the side of the pool and swimming, playing soccer and riding our bikes," Wright said.

"Even though it's a chance for him to point his life in a new direction and pick a new goal . . . it's very hard to leave behind the old dream.

"There's still a grieving process that goes on."

Regardless, Wright said Caleb's experiences would "take him somewhere pretty special one day".

"He's a pretty special kid. I think if you could say it had to happen to someone, it happened to the right kid. [His surgeon] said there's no reason why he should still be alive. He's made of the right stuff. Some kids just are and he is."

Donations to Caleb's family can be made at Givealittle.co.nz/cause/calebscause-braintumour

* Register now to enter the 2016 ASB Summer Starter at summerstarter.co.nz

 - Stuff

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