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Caleb’s STORY

A cancer diagnosis came out of the blue when Jennie and Jeremy took their young son, Caleb, to the doctor three years ago. Caleb had been suffering from random headaches, nausea, sore legs and blurred vision, so Jennie wanted him checked.

Within 24 hours, Caleb had been admitted to hospital, received CT scans, an MRI and emergency surgery to relieve a build-up of fluid in his brain. Within ten days the whole family where in Auckland for Caleb’s surgery.

Surgery should have taken up to 12 hours, so when Jennie’s phone rang after only three they feared the worst. Summoned urgently to the hospital, the family were met by surgeons who told them that Caleb was on life-support after suffering a large bleed and severe damage to his brain. A room was prepared for the family so they could spend the night with their precious son and brother, before saying goodbye. 

“We did our best to make the room brighter, we hung pictures, played music, infused oils and told many jokes and stories. We chose to believe he could hear us and we hung onto every ounce of hope that somehow Caleb would pull through. We were right to hope. Miraculously, after three days in a deep coma and despite the worst odds Caleb chose to fight for life!” – Caleb’s Mum, Jennie

The next five months were incredibly difficult for the family, with Caleb facing five more surgeries and months of rehabilitation. The family was split between Auckland and their home-town of Christchurch as they tried to keep life as normal as possible for Caleb’s younger siblings, Brooke and Noah.

For Caleb, cancer has meant having to relearn so many aspects of daily life. He has worked hard to regain his speech, to hold his head up on his own, to sit, to stand and to walk with a frame. Jennie and Jeremy’s brave boy relearnt how to swallow, to bathe and toilet himself and to brush his own teeth.

Through it all Caleb has used jokes to help himself and others feel happy. In hospital Caleb gave jokes to the nursing staff to share on their rounds with other children who needed cheering up. Now Caleb and Child Cancer Foundation would like to take this one step further and create a joke book specifically for Kiwi children going through cancer, receiving treatment or who just need a good laugh to help them feel better. Caleb’s joke book will be printed and distributed to treatment centre’s and Child Cancer Foundation family places around the country.

Hi everyone I’m Caleb, I’m 12 yrs old and had a brain tumour since I was nine. I’ve had some really hard stuff happen to me, I’ve been scared, in pain and cried lots but I’ve had some really good days too. When I was sick I read lots of jokes to help me feel happy.

If you would like to help Kiwi children like Caleb who are going through cancer please consider joining Caleb’s Joke Challenge by submitting a joke and making a donation.

About Child Cancer Foundation

A childhood cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the child diagnosed. It affects their brothers and sisters, mum, dad, and whānau. Child Cancer Foundation supports them all.

Right now, Child Cancer Foundation is supporting over 1,700 families across New Zealand and has been there for thousands more over the past 40 years. We help each family navigate the child cancer journey – no matter what the outcome – giving them support, strength and helping them maintain hope.

Our commitment to maintaining hope for families extends to the hope of new research advances and giving every child with cancer the best possible chance of getting better. We are grateful to the many extraordinary people who make it possible for us to be there for families so they don’t have to go through this alone.



Registered Charity No. CC20434

Member of the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations


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