February 14, 2018

2017 trip around Australia = five states, eight hospitals and hundreds of smiles

It’s so hard to try to capture the magic and beauty of each of these trips around Australia in a short blog piece. There are so many smiles, so many beautiful families, so many superheroes fighting for their lives in ways that most of us will never be able to imagine. The power of the community of superheroes and their families is beyond words. Here are a few images of our truly amazing trip around Australia sharing love, hope, happiness and comfort with children in treatment for cancer and life-threatening blood diseases and their families.

We started at Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital in Perth. As we did last year, we had a fantastic time meeting some of the world’s strongest superheroes here. The staff at Princess Margaret were wonderful as were the smiles we saw from everyone we met.

Bryce is meticulous about always handwriting every child's name on the cards before they receive their new turtle friends. It's his "special personalised touch" with every gift because, as he says, "everyone deserves to feel special".

Our next stop was the Women and Children’s Hospital (WCH) in Adelaide. At this hospital we meet with the staff and pass along the turtles to them to share with the children in treatment there. All that matters to us is that the special Super Max the Turtle friends make their way into the arms of the superheroes, and so we’re incredibly grateful to the staff at WCH for making that happen.

Next, we traveled to Melbourne where our good friend Sophie (“Auntie Sophie” to the kids) helped us at each of the two hospitals we visited. We visited Monash Children’s Hospital first, where we saw Robyn, our inspirational friend from ANZCHOG, and where we would meet too many beautiful and brave superheroes to include here. We were also joined by the film crew from the TODAY show, and are grateful to their team as well as the kind superheroes and superfamilies who took the time to be filmed for the story. We know how precious every minute is when you’re battling cancer, so we appreciate the gift of their time and support more than we can express. This was one of our longest yet most incredible days on our journey, and the families we met here will be in our hearts forever.

The day after we went to Monash, it was an early start for Amy (Bryce’s mom). She had her cancer maintenance treatment scans (MRI, PET and bloods) at the truly amazing Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Thankfully, they all came back clear… yay! Following Amy’s scans, we all met up together at the Royal Children’s Cancer Centre (RCH), located right down the street from Peter Mac, for another truly incredible day of smiles and happiness. Our lovely friend Mary helped us to share love, hope, happiness and comfort with too many superheroes and superfamilies to count. We had an amazing day full of beautiful connections with children and families who inspire us beyond words.

Our next stop was Sydney and the first hospital we visited there was the Sydney Children’s Hospital. Here we had another fantastic day of smiles, laughter and love. We met so many brave superheroes who inspire us and shared the day with some of the amazing staff who do so much for everyone there.

After Sydney Children’s Hospital our next stop was the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. To our surprise, when we entered the day treatment ward we ran into one of the beautiful superheroes we met last year on our journey around Australia in December, Jane. It was soooo incredibly special to see Jane’s happiness when she saw Super Max the Turtle. Jane’s sister told us that Jane sleeps with her turtle every single night and that she loves it. And Jane’s mother told us that Jane was doing really well with her treatment and would hopefully be through maintenance chemotherapy soon. Honestly, there could be no more magical way to have started this visit than seeing her smiling face and hearing that she is winning her battle (and that she still loves her Super Max of course). After Jane, we went on to meet countless superheroes and their families. Some happy tears were shed and many lifetime friendships were made here. It was a beautiful day.

During our visit to Westmead, it was so beautiful when all of the nurses in the isolation ward came out to hear Bryce tell the story of Super Max the Turtle so they could share it with all of the children who were about to receive their new turtle friends.

After Westmead we drove north to the John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, NSW. Once again, as we experienced last year, the staff, superheroes and superfamilies here were so generous with their happiness and kindness to us. The smiles we received from superheroes aged from one year old to eighteen years old were as bright as the sun. It was a magical day full of happiness and love.

High fives and big smiles all around!

Our last stop was the children’s oncology hospital in our home state of Queensland, the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH) in Brisbane. This was a very special hospital visit for us for a number of reasons. First, our incredibly gorgeous supermum friend Anj, whom we met last year at LCCH where her superhero daughter Missy is in treatment for cancer, flew down from Northern QLD to be with us. We couldn’t have been more grateful and honoured that she would do that for us. Second, we were able to visit the Chair of ANZCHOG, the amazing children’s oncologist Dr. Chris Fraser, once again during our visit. Finally, we just love knowing that whenever we visit LCCH, we’re sharing love, hope, happiness and comfort with superheroes and superfamilies from where we live – tying everything back to Bryce’s initial to raise enough to get six turtle night lights for children on The Gold Coast.

During our visit, we were happy to be joined by two news teams. The first was from Channel TEN Eyewitness News (who ran a beautiful piece on this project on their nightly news which you can view here): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6xwbIWz_Zw

Channel TEN’s The Project also ran a story about Super Max & Bryce which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tbh336Q0_o

The second group was a journalism team from Queensland University of Technology News; they also put together a very special piece about the project which is available online here: http://www.qutnews.com/2017/09/28/brave-bryce-helping-kids-with-cancer/#.WoPfra6WbX4

It was an amazing day for everyone involved – countless smiles for the little superheroes and raising awareness nationally about this devastating disease.

The Super Max and Bryce team doing their stuff... Wait a minute? How is it Mariel is standing there resting? Doesn't she have somewhere (someone) to be?

How is this possible? Mariel is standing next to Super Max the Turtle? What? Points to anyone who can figure this little puzzle out (we write with a smile).

Two of our favourite people helping us today. We love you Anj and Dr. Chris! Thank you for all that you do!

This was an amazing end to our 2017 journey around Australia. Thank you to all of the news teams, the hospital staff, the courageous superheroes and their beautiful superfamilies for helping us to share so much love, hope, happiness, comfort and light this year! Here's to an incredible 2018! Off we go!