Young Strikers Fans Poppy and Chase Shelmerdine will bowl the first ball to Cancer Council SA Ambassador Harry Nielsen at this Tuesday’s Adelaide Strikers v Sydney Thunder BBL game at Adelaide Oval.
In an Australian first for the BBL, the young Strikers fans will be the headline attraction at the Strikers v Sydney Thunder clash, which is raising much needed funds for Cancer Council SA.
Poppy and Chase are no strangers to cancer – Poppy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) when she was just 12 months old.
Her dad Heath says that the news came as a complete shock to the young family.
“We were on a family holiday to Port Douglas and on the plane ride home Poppy became unwell and extremely flat. The doctors suggested blood tests over three weeks, but never once did we think it might be cancer.”
“At the end of three weeks, we got a call to come into Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where Poppy underwent a bone marrow biopsy. After the operation, they sat us down and told us that Poppy had cancer and was 98 per cent full of leukaemia cells. She started chemotherapy immediately.”
“Our entire world changed in that moment, and our lives were never the same again. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, particularly as a parent, watching your child go through so much pain.”
Over the next three years Poppy underwent countless rounds of chemotherapy alongside numerous blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and lumbar punctures.
She has also been treated for many sicknesses along the way including pneumonia and a fungal lung infection.
Throughout it all, her big brother Chase was by her side.
“Poppy and Chase are very close,” Heath said.
“Chase is fully aware of what she has been through and often displays his caring, kind side towards her. But he also had to sacrifice a lot too. We had to spend a lot of time away from Chase while we were caring for Poppy. He supported her by making sacrifices himself.”
“I’m so proud of the relationship they have. They always stick together – I think he’s her biggest fan secretly!”
After three years of gruelling treatments, Poppy is now a healthy, beautiful four-year-old girl.
“Poppy is so very brave and resilient to things that most four-year-olds wouldn’t be able to handle,” Heath said.
“She’s very outgoing and is now preparing for kindy next year. You would never even know what she has been through which is truly amazing for her.”
Throughout Poppy’s treatment, the family shared their story to raise vital funds for cancer research, prevention and support services and support other families like their own.
“Raising money has been so rewarding, seeing firsthand what families go through. No amount of money will ever be enough for children and their families wondering if they will live or die daily, but my hope is that through sharing our story we can inspire others to fundraise and make a difference.”
Heath said that bowling the first ball would be a fantastic way to recognise what Chase and Poppy have been through.
“Chase understands what challenges his sister faced, but also had to give up a lot too. Our family has been through a tough couple of years, but we’re now out the other side and optimistic about the future ahead,” Heath said.
“To be chosen by the Strikers for this opportunity is truly amazing for our family.”
When asked what they’re most looking forward to, Chase said that he’s most excited about being able to hit a ball on a real pitch.
“He said that bowling the ball is exciting, but he really wants to be able to “smash it” just like his favourite players!” said Heath.
Poppy and Chase will bowl the first ball at 6.30 pm before the start of the game. Fans are encouraged to get there early to cheer them on.
For more information about Cancer Council SA and how you can show your support to “Hit Cancer For Six” visit the Cancer Council SA website here: hitcancerforsix.org.au.