Posted in Chaplaincy
Selena and Samantha are only 9 and 10 years old – but they are facing a situation no child should.
Their mum, Lisa, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
After struggling with constant back pain and headaches, Lisa visited the doctor for a quick check-up last year. But the doctors unexpectedly discovered she had cancer in her vertebrae, breast and neck.
Lisa, Samantha and Selena have been left to cope on their own… but they aren’t completely alone.
Karenne Brown, who is the chaplain at Samantha and Selena’s small country school in Farnborough, is doing whatever she can to help Lisa and her girls make the most of their time together.
“Karenne was there soon after I found out I had cancer. Karenne and a teacher took me into the library to calm me down because I was worried so much and, since then, she’s kept in touch,” Lisa says.
“It’s heart-breaking when you see the burdens some primary school children carry. So if I can, in some little way, make school a safer, more enjoyable and nurturing place for them, then it’s worth being a chaplain.” – Chappy Karenne
Karenne regularly meets with Lisa and has helped her create a book of advice for the girls. Karenne also does activities with Samantha and Selena to make sure they are coping.
“I was talking with Lisa one day and she said, ‘Karenne, help me prepare my daughters’. So, we created a list of things she could do with them,” Karenne recalls. “I bought two wedding cards, graduations cards and 18th birthday cards for her to write in. When the girls reach these important days in their lives, they’ll want their mum involved in some way,” she says.
“Samantha, Selena and I have been making ‘treasure boxes’, which will eventually turn into ‘memory boxes’. They write little notes to mum and use it to store precious treasures that mum has given them,” Karenne says.
For Lisa, having Karenne around means one less heavy burden to carry.
“She watches out for my girls at school. She takes them aside every now and then to read together – just to bond with them and make sure they’re okay,” Lisa says. “Karenne is fantastic. She’s taken a lot of stress off me because I know she’s looking out for them – it’s something I don’t have to worry about. She’s there for them all the time,” she says.
Chappy Karenne has engaged the help of Brisbane-based charity, Mummy’s Wish, which supports mothers with cancer. “They provide grocery vouchers, fuel vouchers and organise cleaners. They also give each child a beautiful teddy bear with a voice recorder in it, so they can record their mum’s voice and then curl up in bed at night and cuddle their teddy, while listening to a message from mum,” Karenne says.
“It’s really heart-breaking when you see the burdens some primary school children carry. So if I can, in some little way, make school a safer, more enjoyable and nurturing place for them, then it’s worth being a chaplain,” Karenne says.
“I love to connect with people, especially the students, and know that in some way, I can make their day brighter. I try and stand in the gap for those kids that do life tough.”
Chappy Karenne and Lisa have formed an amazing friendship through tragic circumstances. By supporting chaplains, you are also supporting families who are doing it tough – thank you!