Francesca ‘Franki’ Hudson has every right to be mad at the cards she’s been dealt, but instead she is using her battle to inspire others.
Today, on National Bandanna Day, the 19-year-old is courageously telling the story of how she and her family have been devastated by more than one bout of cancer.
Before she was even born, Franki, the seventh of 10 children, lost a sibling.
Her sister Bridget was diagnosed with cancer and died before she reached the age of two.
“In 2010, we had the next glimpse of cancer when my dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer,” she said.
“He passed away a year later and, that same year, my sister Talya got diagnosed with cancer and that’s when we realised it might have been genetic.
“So, we all got tested and it was myself and my sister, Mackenzie, who had the gene.”
Franki faced another blow when she was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer in 2018.
It came just as she entered her final year of high school, and she spent most of the first half of it in hospital.
Franki is now living cancer free, although there is every chance it could come back.
However, sadly, after winning her battle, her sister lost another – Talya succumbed to her cancer on Mother’s Day last year.
Franki credits CanTeen, a national charity that supports young people living with cancer, for helping her get through it all.
“I’ve had CanTeen support me through all the different things,” she said.
“At the start I was pretty unsure of what to do, I felt numb and lost when dad passed and hearing I had the gene.
“But going through it all with CanTeen, they taught me about the stages of grief and I knew that, because of their support, I was a lot stronger than when I lost dad and could handle it.”
The youngster is now using her story to inspire others as a CanTeen Bandanna Day ambassador.
The University of Newcastle student says she wants to help as many people as she can.
“Don’t be scared to reach out for help,” she said.
“Know that there are a lot of services available to you and appreciate what you have with your loved ones and don’t take it for granted.”
National Bandanna Day is a powerful symbol of hope and connection that represents the resilience of young people facing cancer.
CanTeen has put up bandannas and face masks online to help with its fundraising efforts; they start at $5, with all funds going towards developing and maintaining all that the charity does.
Go to the National Bandanna Day website for more information or to make a purchase.