'My eyes still fill with tears': Mum's emotional book mission following son's cancer diagnosis

Photo: Christelle David and her little boy Taiyo
Photo: Christelle David and her little boy Taiyo Photo: Instagram / Supplied

When Christelle David's little boy Taiyo was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma last year, she stopped reading.

Christelle, a self-described bookworm, said she gave up her full-time job and full-time passion for reading to look after her little boy, who was diagnosed at two-years-old. 

"I cried for two days non-stop after Taiyo's diagnosis," she said.

"During treatment, Taiyo's body wasn't metabolising the chemotherapy. He had a reaction to one of the chemo drugs and we were in hospital over Christmas because he ended up with pancreatitis and liver damage, so we had to watch him closely to make sure that didn't happen again."

Now aged three-and-a-half, he is halfway through his treatment journey.

"Our world was completely turned upside down when Taiyo was diagnosed, some days when I look at my son, I still don't believe it," she told Essential Baby. "Hearing the words 'your son has cancer' was both surreal and devastating."

"The kind of kick in the gut that knocks the breath out of you, and even more than a year on my eyes still fill up with tears remembering that day.

"The cancer journey is a long one, it's exhausting and filled with many ups and downs. Life doesn't stop after diagnoses, the bills continue to come in and the emotional trauma is on going."


DAY 261 | Big Boy and The Captains from @starlightau up to big boy and Captain things

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Now Taiyo is strong enough, the Melbourne mum has started reading again, anything from historical fiction, fantasy and thrillers, and is using books to free herself from the confines of the COVID-19 lockdown.  

"When I'm reading, I'm able to be somewhere else and be someone else," she said.

"I have always loved reading.. and learn a lot from the books that I read. 

"Reading has allowed me to escape lockdown and our cancer journey. I've been able to travel outside our apartment through books." 

And Taiyo loves when his parents reads to him.

"Taiyo particularly loves the Hairy Maclary series and has been asking for a dog that looks like Hercules Morse as big as a horse," she said. "It's been a lovely way for us to bond. 

"One of the silver linings of COVID-19 is that our family has been able to catch up with the time we 'lost' last year while we were stuck in hospital."

Christelle decided to use her love of books to help raise money for national children's cancer charity, Redkite, who provided support to her family.

"From the very beginning, Redkite was always present," she said.

"They provided financial support when our savings were dwindling and emotional support through counselling. 

"Redkite made sure we had food on the table and petrol in the car to get to our appointments."

She approached well-known authors including former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Trent Dalton, writer of the number one bestseller, Boy Swallows Universe, and Jane Harper, author of The Dry – to donate signed copies of their books – for her book raffle.

"I took the leap of faith and casually sent them messages on Instagram and via email," she told Essential Baby.

"If you don't ask, you don't know. 

"I cried when the Hon Julia Gillard said 'yes'."


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Christelle is hoping the fundraiser will help raise awareness of both childhood cancer and the work Redkite does supporting families. 

"There are so many hidden expenses that come with a cancer diagnosis that you can never really prepare for. I'm hoping the money will help ease some of the burden that families like mine face," she said.

"I hope the money raised will help support young children and their families while they undergo treatment, whether through the food and fuel vouchers that Redkite provides and or education grants."

Redkite's CEO Monique Keighery said every year nearly 800 children are diagnosed with cancer, and it was already tough enough for their families to navigate this devastating time, let alone the added pressures of COVID-19. 

"Cristelle's hard work to help other families like hers is inspiring," Ms Keighery said.

"I would encourage anyone who has ever escaped into the pages of a good book to support Cristelle's book raffle. 

"Not only will you be doing something positive for your wellbeing, but you'll also be supporting children with cancer."


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Tickets are on sale during September - Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

You can follow Cris' journey on Instagram.

Donate here: https://redkite.grassrootz.com/let-s-support-kids-with-cancer/books-for-cancer.