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Blessings - A Visit with Dainere Anthoney

By Carol Duncan - 20th September 2010

I've written about the beautiful Dainere Anthoney for happychild previously.  It is too easy to describe every seriously ill child as 'exceptional', but this young lady truly is.  She captured the heart of my Twitter followers and nationwide journalist colleagues some months ago when her wish was to have her personal blog published in book form.  Dainere didn't want a trip to Disneyland or to meet Justin Bieber (she's more a Benji Marshall kinda girl).  What she wanted was to share her story to help others who might follow in her footsteps and her journey with cancer.

Brain cancer. Medulloblastoma.  

Dainere and her family are fighting this cruel disease as hard as they can, but it is a terrible and aggressive opponent that wants nothing but to take her young life.  The treatments Dainere has endured to try to cripple her foe are gradually crippling her.  She is constantly exhausted and in pain.  She finds it hard to talk and her speech has been affected, so she writes.  

She writes with great love and compassion for all of her family.  Her siblings Nalani and Jarrett - teenagers that should be having the time of their lives but for now are forced to take somewhat of a back seat while all of the attention is on their younger sister.  I know they would never envy her disease, but sometimes they must envy the attention and I was aware of this as my own children handed over a small silk bag of treats for Dainere - a simple, sweet perfume, a long chain of embroidered elephants to hang in room, and chocolate to share with everyone.  Their own lives should be celebrated, and I'm sure they are, but this must be a rough time for them.  They don't know it yet but this will shape their lives.

Dainere's parents are Yvonne & Stephen.  I've written before about my own son's fight for his life, but I can assure you it doesn't compare with what these two wonderful people are going through.  I admire them greatly for their warmth and the normality they strive to give their three children.  

Even though I've interviewed Dainere & Yvonne on my radio program, and written about her several times, we had not yet met in person.  We were both very keen for this to happen as she feels that I have been a substantial part of her 'team'.  This beautiful girl emails me regularly, tells me how much I mean to her and that she can't wait to give me a hug!  She'd already written about our visit on her blog before we got home!

Dainere has been having a few setbacks.  It was time to visit.  So I booked accommodation, packed the kids and bags in the car, and we drove to Canberra for the weekend to meet the family.  And deliver that hug.  And several kisses on the cheek!

I'm not sure how much pain she is in, she writes about it a lot so I think it has become pretty constant.  She finds just about everything exhausting.  So I had no intention of overstaying my welcome.  Just an hour.  Sitting next to this beautiful girl with her soft, fluffy beanie.  A little girl who has lots to say but finds it hard to do so but whose smile is about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  Dainere oozes serenity.  She is a wise and ancient soul in a tiny, bird-like body that is betraying her.  You just have to read her extensive and regular blog entries to know that she's generous of spirit and compassion and determined to make a difference. To make her life count. She will probably never know just how significant her contribution has been to others, including me.

I took my family to meet hers and I confess I was a little concerned about how my 7 & 8 year old sons would deal with meeting a little girl who is so very ill.  I have talked about her with them on many occasions, and of course they are aware of Mr 7's serious congenital heart defect and surgery.  My kids are pretty awesome, without fail they always step up to whatever challenges they face, but meeting Dainere was going to be a life lesson.  Of course, they were great and I asked Mr 8 earlier this evening what he'd made of it all. This is what he said:

I was worried about her, worried that she would have lots of scars and not be the pretty girl that she is.  I was worried about her cancer, that she'll have to have more operations and lose more of her ability to move her body.  I was scared of meeting someone who is possibly going to die - imagine every day waking up and knowing that death is probably coming soon.  I thought that she might find somebody who has the technology to stop this brain cancer, but probably not.  I wouldn't be very happy if it was me or one of my relatives or close friends.  I reckon her mother and father must be very scared and worried about her, and her brother and sister are probably thinking about her all the time and wondering what it's like going through operations, not being able to walk - stuff like that.  I'm glad I met her, she's a very nice person and it's sad that she has to be so sick.  I hope she finds a doctor that can help her come through all this.

Dainere - thank you for having us bring the 'crazy' that is my little family to visit yours.  I think you have the warmest, softest cheek I've ever been lucky enough to kiss!  Knowing you makes my world a better place.

Comments (5)

YvetteVignando's picture

Hugs for Dainere Anthoney

I think all of us would love to give Dainere a hug. I am so happy that you were able to take your boys down for a visit and reading Dainere's blog, she clearly loved having you there too. I am so in awe of Dainere - in spite of her young age, she has found a way to inspire others and make a difference and although she must feel (this is the best word) quite "crappy" sometimes, she's giving out all this joy and generosity. Human beings can be really amazing can't they? If Dainere reads this, I want to say to her how much I hope other children her age get to read all the beautiful writing she is putting on her blog because reading what she writes is a great way for kids to get some perspective, some inspiration, some happiness and wisdom.

I know it's a cliche but my heart goes out to all famlies and children dealing with serious illnesses. And I am sending mental hugs to Dainere and her family which I am sure Carol will pass on for me IRL some time.

CarolDuncan's picture

Thanks Kylie. I admit my eyes

Thanks Kylie.

I admit my eyes filled just ever so slightly with tears as I said goodbye to her ... the desire to wrap her up and make it all better ... well, I think that's just a 'mum thing'. A parent thing.

Life's not fair, we all know that, but sometimes ... sheesh.


Kylie Ladd's picture

Oh, wow. Somehwo I hadn't

Oh, wow. Somehwo I hadn't quite grasped that you had never actually met her IRL before. What an amazing weekend it must have been! I love this blog. Your love of- and your fears for- Daniere shine though. xxxx

CarolDuncan's picture

Hi Bern, I'm glad I went and

Hi Bern,

I'm glad I went and I'll be trying to make sure I see her on her now monthly visits to Sydney.

My boys are pretty good, they know stuff.

If you want to make Dainere's day, go write on her blog! Just don't teach her any new words, K? ;P


pipbern's picture

What an amazing little lady

Thanks Carol for sharing. I've been following from afar and am so glad you got to deliver the kiss in person.

Your son sounds divine. What an amazing heart he possess's.

So sad you had to connect is such terrible circumstances and although I'm not a prayer, I might have to give it a go for Dainere

Bern x

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