"No one I knew had cancer when they were as young as I was"

Tony's cancer journey started when he was 7 and diagnosed with leukemia.

"My cancer journey started quite a long time ago now, when i was seven years old, I was first diagnosed with leukemia. I had to go down south to Christchurch treatment for a couple of years, so that all ended quite a bit before I actually joined Canteen."

The effects of cancer don't end after treatment.

"Even though my treatment was long over by the time I joined Canteen, when you have cancer that young, the effects of it are with you, mentally and psychologically, stick with you for a really long time after the treatment ends.

"None of my friends had cancer, and no one really knew I had cancer when they were as young as I was, so no one really understood what it was like. Going into Canteen it was really cool to me to meet a group of people who just instantly get what it means to have gone through what I've gone through."

Dealing with cancer is tough. Having a strong support network is important.

"A lot of events are fun, they're just a good chance to relax, have a few yarns with people , and get to connect with the people around you. "I think it's like a really great just being able to have that time off to just kind of relax and be a teenager."

Canteen connects rangatahi with others who can understand what they're going through.

"If you've never gone through cancer at a young age, if you've never gone through the whole process, it's almost impossible to realise. People will try to always empathise, but you'll never really fully understand or know what it's like unless you've actually gone through it yourself"

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candid photo of tony laughing