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Simon says thanks to a charity that supported him through tough times

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Simon Morris has defied the odds not once, not twice, but three times. 

As a child he won a battle against leukemia and, this year, he had two scares with a tumour and fluid on his brain. 

The Maitland local is sharing his story to raise awareness and funds for a charity that’s given him so much – Camp Quality. 

“Camp Quality has been in my life for 20-odd years,” he said.

“I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was nine back in 1989.

“I went down to Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney for treatment, because there was no hospital that could treat young ones up this way and we were pretty much stuck there for two years.”

Simon with his son Cooper.

This is when the national charity stepped in to help.

It supported Simon and his family through his treatment by providing them with information and some breaks from cancer through the Camp Quality Retreats. 

Simon was also invited to attend events, where he would connect with other kids who were fighting cancer. 

“I went to their camps for about 10 or 12 years, every year I would go in September and do a week with them,” he said.

“It was good for me because there were other kids living with the same condition or different cancers but they were going through the same sort of treatment.

“You didn’t look funny being the only one with a bald head.

“They were the best, I feel very lucky that I’m one of the survivors. 

“I had a few friends that I met at hospital and at camps who have sadly passed away over the years.”

Fast forward to now and Simon has remained connected with Camp Quality, volunteering as a companion at its Kids Camps and participating in the 1000 K’s 4 Kids initiative.

Since 2016 he’s got on his bike and cycled thousands of kilometres to support children fighting cancer. 

While this year’s edition has been forced to turn virtual, it has actually worked in Simon’s favour. 

In March he went to hospital after suffering from several headaches and migraines.

“In the end I had to have an MRI and after that I was told that I had tumour on the edge of my brain,” he said.

“So, I was put in hospital from that day back in March and I stayed until they scheduled surgery and then I went to a neurosurgeon and he removed the tumour.

“It was a scary moment waiting for the tests to be done, they sent it to Sydney to be tested and we got the return that it was benign.

“So, it wasn’t cancerous, thank god but I have had another scare since then.

Simon after his surgery.

“The valve that takes the liquid away from around your brain got clogged up and I ended up having to get a shunt put in.

“I have tubing that goes down the side of my neck into my belly, that is another way of getting rid of the fluid.”

Simon says, despite not being a child anymore, the charity was there for him through this sending messages of support to him and his family, including his nine-year-old son Cooper.

If 1000 K’s 4 Kids campaign was to run as normal, it sees participants cycle 1,000 kilometres over 10 days.

However, in its 10th year, thanks to COVID-19, the charity is encouraging teams to ride as many kilometres as they can in the month of September. 

During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, they are hoping to raise $170,000.

For Simon it means jumping on his bike whenever he can and spreading the message of what Camp Quality does. 

“The other day I decided to put the riding gear on and I’ve been doing 20km to 30km when I get on the bike and can have a spin,” he said.

“It’s sad that we are not on the ride but obviously because of COVID this is a way to do it.”

The father of one adds it’s a chance for him to thank a charity that gave him so much. 

“I want to give back to the charity for what they’ve given me,” he said.

“They helped me through a lot. 

“It is not cheap to send these kids to the camps, there is a lot of money needed so I am just here to give back, help and thank them for what they did for me.”

Simon’s fundraising goal is $15,000, having already raised over $11,500 he is well on track to beat that. 

To donate go to his fundraising page.

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