Meet our 2021 Woolworths Ambassadors

Sofia - Brisbane Ambassador

In March 2019, during a routine x-ray, Sofia’s doctor noticed a mass just above her right knee.  Following further tests, the Guerra family’s worst nightmare was confirmed – the mass was a malignant tumour.

Following four rounds of chemotherapy, Sofia went into the operating theatre to get the tumour removed.  The surgery consisted of a rare and complex procedure called rotationplasty.

A few weeks later, Sofia had to undergo additional chemotherapy, which was completed five months later in November, and following a second surgery in December, Sofia began the rehabilitation process to learn how to walk with a prosthetic leg.

Her parents cite Sofia as the strongest person they know, who is always smiling and looking forward to the future and has battled through her treatment without a complaint.

Anev - Rockhampton Ambassador

Ten-year-old Anev was only one when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – one of the most aggressive forms of childhood cancer.

Anev’s cancer was Stage 4, and had metastasised into her bone marrow, and taken over the bones from her head to her toes.

This year, she is celebrating seven years in remission, with no evidence of return of disease.

However, Anev’s relationship with hospitals is still going strong, as she undergoes treatment for pre-existing bone conditions, including kyphoscoliosis and osteogenesis imperfecta, which were worsened throughout her cancer treatment.

Kyphoscoliosis is a combined spinal abnormality, and osteogenesis imperfecta is a group of disorders characterised by fragile bones that break easily.

Anev remains resilient despite all the hurdles she has faced, with mum, Anita, saying she ‘bulldozes her way through life’.

Jasper - Gold Coast Ambassador

Seventeen-year-old Jasper began to experience hip pain in May 2019, and when the pain hadn’t eased by September, his doctors ordered an MRI.

When the results came back, the doctor told Jasper and his family to go to the hospital without delay – the MRI had found that Jasper had a tumour in his pelvis, which was later diagnosed as Ewing Sarcoma. Jasper’s whole world had been flipped on its head.

Jasper and his family were told that the cancer was operable, and the oncologist was sure there was a feasible treatment plan in place, so they left the hospital feeling reassured that they were in good hands.

Jasper underwent surgery to remove the cancer after months of chemotherapy and radiation, before doing some further follow up chemotherapy.

He is now happily cancer free but has to return to Queensland Children’s Hospital for regular scans to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned.

Matilda - Beaudesert and Logan Ambassador

Just after her sixth birthday, nine-year-old Matilda began feeling unwell, and as there were so specific symptoms, her parents believed she had a virus.

A few weeks went by, and she developed a sore and swollen ankle. She began experiencing stomach pains and her fever spiked, so she was referred straight to the Queensland Children’s Hospital for testing by her GP.

Matilda was quickly admitted, and spent the next week undergoing a series of tests with the orthopaedic and rheumatology departments before she was given medication for juvenile arthritis.

It wasn’t until a week later, when Matilda’s pain worsened, that her and her family returned to Queensland Children’s Hospital, where further testing revealed that Matilda had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Matilda has bravely gotten through her treatment, and is now in remission, having recently celebrated being one-year cancer free, after she had her final chemotherapy treatment on 11 January 2020.

Sophie - Mackay Ambassador

Every 15 hours, an Australian child is born with cerebral palsy. It is the most common physical disability in childhood.

Despite living with this condition, ten-year-old Sophie is a bright, funny, and happy young girl, who loves swimming and looking after her pets.

Sophie has spent a lot of time in Queensland Children’s Hospital over the years receiving various treatments and undergoing numerous procedures and surgeries to help with her condition.

Sophie is currently doing well and started Year 5 at school in January, she loves going to school and playing with her friends. She is working hard on her independence and does her best to get herself up and dressed ready for school in the mornings.  Despite everything Sophie has been through, she is determined to hit her goals.

Esther - Redlands Ambassador

Esther was only four years old when she started feeling unwell while on holiday. When she presented to a regional hospital, an ultrasound revealed that she had masses in each kidney.

Esther was flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital, where further testing revealed to Esther’s parents, Kasey and Tom, that she had Stage 5 (Bilateral) Wilms Tumour, with two large tumours in her kidney, as well as multiple small ones in both kidneys and in the lungs.

Esther was treated with chemotherapy, two operations to preserve her right kidney, radiation and spent a lot of 2017 in hospital.

In April 2018, she was officially given the news that she was cancer free and now visits hospital for routine check-ups every six months.

Esther was also born with Albinism – a group of inherited disorders that results in little or no production of the pigment melanin, which determines the colour of the skin, hair and eyes.

Gabriel - Ipswich Ambassador

When two-year-old Gabriel had become tired and lethargic, his GP ordered a blood test.

Following the test, his family were advised to present to Queensland Children’s Hospital, where the oncology team were waiting. They advised that Gabriel had B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia – a common type of cancer in children which affects the immune system.

With no time to waste, Gabriel began treatment the next day, which included blood transfusions.

He then began chemotherapy, and the family stayed at Queensland Children’s Hospital for two weeks during this initial chemotherapy period.

During his treatment, Gabriel stopped talking and walking for a few weeks, and his hair fell out. He even stopped eating for five weeks during one of his cycles, leading him to be tube fed at night. He’s now on steroids and continuing intensive chemotherapy for the next two months. It is expected that Gabriel will finish his treatment in December 2022.

Ollie - Lismore and Tweed Ambassador

Eight-year-old Ollie had just celebrated his birthday when he was injured while riding his motorbike around the family farm. Due to the severe nature of his injuries, the family were immediately flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Following tests, doctors admitted him to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to monitor a brain bleed, where he was put into an induced coma for four days.

The next three months were a long journey of recovery, with the smallest achievements representing enormous milestones in the eyes of his family.

He was paralysed down his right side, with no movement at all, and his family weren’t even sure if he was going to be able to walk or talk ever again.

Ollie has made leaps and bounds since his accident, walking and talking again, and having recently started Grade 3. He’s even back doing one of his favourite activities – surfing.

Bella - Caboolture, Redcliffe and Sunshine Coast Ambassador

Seven-year-old Bella is living with a rare genetic syndrome and has recently undergone open-heart surgery for congenital heart problems.

Her cardiac problems are completely unrelated to her rare disorder – DiGeorge Syndrome.

DiGeorge Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that results in poor development of several bodily systems, and can cause heart defects, poor immune system function, and more. There is currently no cure.

Bella was only one day old when doctors picked up a heart murmur, and shortly after, Bella failed to meet any of the major developmental milestones and was experiencing feeding issues. Every little cold resulted in a long illness, and usually a hospital admission. She was sixteen months old when she was diagnosed.

Despite it all, nothing can dull Bella’s smile, and her bubbly personality is contagious.

Arianna - Bundaberg and Hervey Bay Ambassador

Five-year-old Arianna had quite a few small bruises, a fever, and was feeling lethargic, which led her mum to take her to the local hospital emergency department.

Following blood tests, her parents received the news no parents want to hear – she likely had leukaemia, a type of blood cancer.

They were quickly flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, and she spent two weeks in hospital to start her chemotherapy treatment.

She spent nine months in and out of hospital receiving treatment and faced several infections and side effects during this time.

Arianna is now in maintenance chemotherapy stage to keep her cancer in remission, which involves further chemotherapy, steroids and antibiotics. She is due to finish her chemotherapy in August and has recently started prep!

Evie - Roma Ambassador

Six-year-old Evie was only four weeks old when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) – a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

This has led to ongoing infections in her lungs, which has resulted in severe lung damage and hampered her body’s ability to maintain weight. It’s expected that Evie will require a double lung transplant down the track, however she has just started a new medication which her family hopes will push the transplant timeline out further.

To receive treatment at Queensland Children’s Hospital, Evie spends four to six weeks away from home at a time, saying goodbye to her dad, friends, and animals.

During her treatment, Evie has spent time in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where she has received music therapy, funded by the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Jackson - Toowoomba Ambassador

What started as flu like symptoms led to over seven weeks in hospital for little Jackson who was just 14 months old.

When his lips turned dark blue his parents rushed him to the emergency department at their local hospital, but when his condition deteriorated and his face and arm started turning purple Jackson and his mum Kelsey, were flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Within the first few hours of being in hospital Jackson became septic, he was intubated and given medication to keep him asleep and to stop him from moving.  Further tests diagnosed osteomyelitis and streptococcus group A.  Over the next seven weeks Jackson had several stays in PICU, had three MRI’s, chest Xray’s, an NG feeding tube inserted, blood transfusions, fasciotomy, surgeries, and a skin graph.

Despite everything he went through Jackson has responded well to treatment, and his family are happy to have him home.

Malcolm and Raymond - Mount Isa Ambassadors

Malcolm and Raymond are identical twins who were born premature at 29 weeks, who have had a rocky start to life.

After requiring resuscitation at birth, they became ill at one week old. They were taken into surgery due to twisted bowels, and surgeons had to remove 50 per cent of both their bowels. Following surgery, both the boys contracted multiple infections, and had to be put on life support in intensive care.

The boys have both been admitted at Queensland Children’s Hospital for the past eight months fighting for their lives as their treatment continues, and they require further surgeries to assist their bowel and gut function.

Zaira - Townsville Ambassador

During a routine GP appointment in 2019, a GP noticed that Zaira wasn’t walking quite right. When an X-Ray suggested that nothing was wrong with her hips, she was sent to have an MRI.

The MRI revealed that Zaira, now 11, had medulloblastoma – the most common type of cancerous brain tumour in children.

Zaira and her family were flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, Zaira’s appendix erupted in an unrelated health episode. Once her doctors were able to fix her appendix, she went for a PET scan which showed her tumour had grown.

Surgeons operated on the tumour to have it removed, and then Zaira underwent 30 radiation treatments, and started chemotherapy. Zaira is nearly at the end of her chemotherapy treatment in Brisbane, and is hoping to head home soon

Isla - North Brisbane Ambassador

Seven-year-old Isla has always been a happy, vibrant little girl so when her parents were told she had a serious heart condition it came as a huge shock.

Isla was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, which is a narrowing of the large blood vessel from the heart.  This makes it difficult for blood to leave the heart properly and can lead to complications later in life.

Isla had open heart surgery in September 2020. The operation went well but unfortunately during her recovery, she developed extra fluid around her heart and lungs which resulted in 20 days in hospital.

Isla is now six months post-surgery and she is doing so well. She was excited to return to school to see her friends and teachers.

Isla had always said she wanted to be an artist when she grows up, but since her operation she has changed her mind. She now wants to be a scientist, so she can “put on science shows for kids in hospital”.

Ingrid - Far North Queensland Ambassador

Baby Ingrid has only just celebrated her second birthday, but she is already facing the fight of her life after she was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year.

Life changed forever when Ingrid stopped walking, became agitated, and it seemed that nothing her parents, Belle and Jaxon, could do would cheer her up or improve her mood.

After a trip to the doctor, Ingrid underwent blood tests, ultrasounds, and an X-ray, before the family were referred to Cairns for more follow up testing.

In Cairns, Ingrid had an unexpected seizure, which prompted further testing. A CT scan showed that there was a large mass on her brain – a brain tumour.

Ingrid’s currently being treated with chemotherapy, which has been going well. She also had brain surgery in December but unfortunately, surgeons were not able to remove as much as they hoped.

Brain cancer sadly kills more children in Australia than any other disease, killing one child every nine days.