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Jemima leads with kindness and bravery

5 Oct, 2021

Jemima leads with kindness and bravery

CanTeen leader Jemima is only 15 years old and has terminal brain cancer, but this Wellington rangatahi is still thinking of others – and is determined to make a difference in the lives of rangatahi impacted by cancer.

At the beginning of 2021, Jemima’s life changed in the space of a week.

“Jemima went from being a regular teenager on Monday to having a headache on Tuesday, then vomiting on Wednesday — by the end of the week, she was in the hospital, diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain cancer.” Shared mum Ray.

Jemima, the bubbly and optimistic older sister of brothers Theo, 13, and Rudy, 11, was diagnosed with a rare cancer that is inoperable – due to the tumour’s location in the brainstem, as it grows like a spiderweb instead of being a solid tumour. Jemima’s mum Ray says she has undergone numerous treatments to try and slow down its growth.

“Jem has fought hard to remain stable. Enduring 6 weeks of radiation, first-of-kind chemotherapy imported from Germany, anti-cancer IV infusions, and so many other pokes, tests, scans, and hospital visits.”

During this time, Jemima also joined CanTeen to meet other rangatahi who have been impacted by cancer and regularly attended our face-to-face events in Wellington.

CanTeen Youth Worker Abi, said Jemima, who has been eagerly waiting to join CanTeen’s leadership programme, which supports members who are 16+ to grow their leadership skills, has already shown amazing leadership within CanTeen and beyond – and has therefore been offered an honorary leadership role.

“Jemima is a regular at our events, and always brightens up the room. She shows true leadership at our events as her infectious smile and confident personality help other rangatahi to feel welcome, included, and supported.”

Sadly, despite the treatments, the cancer has started to grow again. So, Jemima’s family is now focused on supporting her wish…

“I wish other kids don’t have to go through this, and I want to do all that I can to make sure of that.”

Jemima raised more than $130,000 that she will gift, alongside her own savings, towards paediatric brain cancer research and clinical trials.

We are so proud to have Jemima as part of the CanTeen whānau – showing outstanding leadership as she helps make a difference in the lives of others.


Sadly, Jemima passed away on Tuesday 12 October,  peacefully and surrounded by family. Her extraordinary fundraising has now surpassed $600,000 for paediatric brain cancer research.


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