John "Wheels" Wieland, child liaison officer for MACE Wide Bay.

How cancer fight inspired crusade for sick kids

A CHANCE encounter changed John Wieland’s perspective on his cancer battle.

The Hervey Bay man, 39, was in Brisbane for bone cancer treatment when he found himself in the lobby of the Cancer Council lodge, feeling sorry for himself.

“That morning, I was not in the mood. I was angry, sick … and ready to give it away,” he said.

“My chemo rounds lasted three days.

“I was sick, I could barely eat. I was sitting in the lobby, waiting for the bus to take me.”

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Ronald McDonald House had closed and families who would usually stay there ended up in the same lodge as Mr Wieland.

That’s how he met an 18-month-old girl, who was battling kidney cancer.

The toddler was staying in Brisbane with her grandmother while she received treatment.

“This little girl came walking out into the lobby and she was just being an 18-month-old,” Mr Wieland said.

Mr Wieland’s cancer treatment including a major surgery and six months of chemotherapy.

He now has a metal prosthesis in his leg.

Seeing the little girl staying playful and positive in the face of a terrifying cancer fight turned Mr Wieland’s thinking around.

“It just lifted me up. For this little girl to go through kidney cancer at that age, it made me think ‘what am I being such a sook about?’,” he said.

“I gave that little girl a teddy bear, anonymously through the Cancer Council. That felt great and I wanted to do that when I came back to Hervey Bay.”

MACE Wide Bay president Michael
MACE Wide Bay president Michael "Gator" Johns, Melissa Cross, Khyzer Cross and John “Wheels” Wieland, child liaison officer for MACE Wide Bay.

Inspired to extend this generosity to other sick children, Mr Wieland approached his fellow MACE Wide Bay members to work out how they could support Hervey Bay Hospital’s paediatric ward.

“They don’t have the hospitals here like they do in Brisbane,” Mr Wieland said.

“There, they’re bright, fun and spacious. There’s superheroes walking around.

“Even though we’ve got amazing staff here, they don’t have all that cool stuff.”

The group resolved to raise money for some spirit-lifting gifts for the hospital.

Mr Wieland, who serves as the MACE chapter’s child liaison officer, was there when the group donated Warrior Shields and Supertees to the hospital.

The shields are made in Brisbane and are designed to honour the strength of young patients fighting long-term illnesses.

Supertees were created by a Sydney man, Mr Wieland said, whose son had gone through health struggles.

They are superhero-themed and specially designed to allow cords and tubes to be fed through, meaning they can be worn during treatment.

MACE members also handed over two Nintendo Switches, donated by Santini, Hervey Bay.

Mr Wieland, whose road name is Wheels, said MACE (Motorcyclists Advocating Child Empowerment) was always looking for ways to support children in need.

This included taking part in Toy Run events, escorting children to court and supporting victims of bullying.

The group will also host a family fun day and ride at Easter next year, the proceeds of which will also go to the Hervey Bay Hospital children’s ward.