Petra Hancock - CCF Face of Appeal 2008
Petra Hancock - Child Cancer Foundation 2008 Face of the Appeal
Petra Hancock has 376 colourful beads on her necklace. Each individual bead represents a different procedure on her cancer treatment path and together they serve to tell her unique story of courage and bravery.
Petra is a bubbly five year old girl with a twin sister Libby, brother Rory (age six), step-brother Joshua Collett (age 16) and loving parents, Toni and Chris Hancock. In March, 2007 Petra was diagnosed with cancer. Her parents, Toni and Chris Hancock, had taken her to the doctor several times after noticing blood in her urine but because Petra was such a happy-go-lucky child, they never imagined that their beautiful young daughter could be suffering with cancer. A bout of antibiotics masked the symptoms for a period of time but they soon returned. Petra was referred to Starship Children’s Hospital where she underwent a scan that confirmed the worst - she had a stage four Wilms tumour the size of a brick growing on her right kidney and a small tumour on her lung.
Petra was admitted to Starship where she underwent urgent surgery (nephrectomy) to remove her kidney and at the same time, had a Portacath inserted in preparation for chemotherapy. Within days of this major operation, Petra began rigorous radiotherapy and chemotherapy to stop the spread of cancer throughout her small body. She endured almost eight months of intensive chemotherapy treatments, countless tests, scans, tube insertions, clinic visits, ultrasounds, x-rays, blood samples and antibiotics. As well as losing her long blonde hair, she was isolated from her friends and family for almost seven months. This was an incredibly traumatic and painful time in Petra’s life.
Throughout these difficult months, support for the Hancock family flooded in from extended family, friends, the Child Cancer Foundation, Starship staff and the Whenuapai community. Chris’s mum and brother stopped work to help look after Libby and Rory and many friendly faces dropped in to fill in the endless hours spent in hospital. From the time that Petra was diagnosed, the Child Cancer Foundation stepped in to provide support to the family, especially the siblings. The Hancocks were grateful to receive advice on government entitlements, an introductory kit, toys and books for the other kids, petrol and food vouchers, as well as a listening ear whenever they needed it.
Since finishing her treatment in October 2007, Petra has bounced back quickly, her hair has started to re-grow and she has regained her old positivity and charisma. Although she was unable to start school with her friends on her 5th birthday, she was finally well enough to begin school with her sister Libby in November. Petra enjoys being able to go to the beach again, play in the garden and hang out with her friends who she missed dearly during her treatments. Although she’s in remission, she is still having monthly check-ups, blood tests and scans. After two years, this will drop back to yearly appointments.
Petra’s unrelenting energy and sense of humour throughout her ordeal has been an inspiration to everyone who knows her, and this year she has been chosen to share her courageous journey with New Zealanders as the Child Cancer Foundation Face of the Appeal.