This year's Face of Hervey Bay Relay For Life, Mitchell Cawthray.
This year's Face of Hervey Bay Relay For Life, Mitchell Cawthray.

RELAY: The day Bay boy was diagnosed with brain cancer

UNDERGOING an MRI for an unrelated injury revealed the shocking news.

In 2015, at just 11-years-old, Hervey Bay's Mitchell Cawthray was diagnosed with brain cancer.

He was a typical active kid, whose time was spent playing hockey, doing Taekwondo, Little Athletics, and motor bike riding.

But his world was changed that day when he was rushed to hospital in Brisbane with his mother by his side, his sister and dad meeting them there.

That night, his parents saw for the first time the image of the large tumour sitting on his brain stem.

Showing incredible resilience and resourcefulness for someone so young, Mitchell found a way to occupy himself while away from his friends and favourite sports - he took to playing online games that he could play from his bed.

While recovering from treatment, he swapped to Pokémon Go, getting outside when he could, to see and enjoy the animals and parklands in South Brisbane.

Following nearly a year of radiation, chemotherapy and clinical trials, Mitchell and his family were able to return to Hervey Bay in February, 2016.

Mitchell's mother Janine Cawthray said while it may not be the end of his cancer story, the family feel fortunate to be where they are. 

"The cancer is malignant, and it could come back or metastasize at any time," she said.

"We are aware of that fact and we are just so fortunate to have him with us every day.

"Ever since he was a toddler Mitchell has dreamt of becoming a pilot and when we returned to Hervey Bay he was old enough to become an Australian Air Force Cadet, so of course he joined.

"Mitchell's back playing hockey, he loves doing his Australian Air Force Cadets, and he is enjoying life again," Mrs Cawthray said.

Humbled to be asked to be the Face of Relay, Mitchell, now aged 15, hopes to make sure others experiencing cancer receive the help they need, just as he did.

The Face of Relay is a symbol of hope for locals affected by cancer and hope for cancer free future.

As Face of Relay, Mitchell will lead other survivors and their carers on a lap to officially open Hervey Bay Relay For Life, which will be held at Ralph Stafford Park on October 19 and 20, to raise funds for Cancer Council Queensland's work in cancer research, prevention and support.

Mrs Cawthray said her family was grateful to all who raised funds through Relay For Life.

"Clinical trials are so important in advancing cancer treatments and were crucial to Mitchell's survival," she said.

"Relay For Life is a way of raising the funds needed to continue cancer research."

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the charity was delighted to have Mitchell as the Face of the 2019 Hervey Bay Relay For Life.

"Each year in Queensland, around 27,800 people are diagnosed with cancer - these are people on community we know; families like Mitchell's," Ms McMillan said. 

"By joining Mitchell at the Hervey Bay Relay For Life, you will give hope to all locals affected by cancer and help get one step closer to a cancer free future.

"Relay is an event for anyone, no matter their age or ability, who is inspired to fight back against cancer and make a difference in their local community.

"Together, we are stronger than cancer - join Mitchell at Hervey Bay Relay For Life by registering today."

Relay For Life is a community fundraising initiative for Cancer Council Queensland, where teams fundraise in the lead to the event. Teams then take turns walking around the track to signify that cancer never sleeps.

To register a team, volunteer, or find out more, visit www.relayforlife.org.au or call 1300 65 65 85.