When a mother receives a cancer diagnosis, all the responsibilities she previously had don’t just magically go away.
As Angelique Ettia, the Chief Executive Officer of cancer charity Mummy’s Wish tells Women’s Agenda, “you’re still a mum.”
“When you’re receiving treatment, there isn’t necessarily anybody around to cook meals, pick up the kids, do the housework, or provide necessary information to communicate to the children what is happening.”
Mummy’s Wish was established to respond to this challenge, supporting mothers caring for young children under 13 with the practical support they need from the moment when their lives are suddenly turned upside down with a diagnosis.
“What drives the Mummy’s Wish team today is when mums say to us that, more than any other organisation, we made a difference to their lives at a time when they needed it most, and that’s something that stays with them after their treatment. It’s amazing to hear because I still believe we can do more, and we’re planning projects that will expand our support.”
Mummy’s Wish was founded by a Brisbane mother Bernadette Vella, a cancer survivor herself. On receiving that diagnosis, she identified a massive gap in the support for women with primary school aged children.
The charity now offers personal and tailored support to around 1000 mums and their families each year. This includes case management from qualified professionals, care packages including voice-recordable comfort bears for children, therapeutic books to help with communication, support packages to help with house cleaning, meals, gardening, hospital parking and fuel vouchers, as well as counselling services and online connection with other mums.
By 2025, Mummy’s Wish goal is to support the 5000 mums every year who are diagnosed with any type of cancer.
It’s an ambitious goal for the small organisation that in 2019 was on the verge of closing. It doesn’t receive any government funding and relies on the goodwill and donations of fundraising initiatives.
During this turbulent period, Ettia was appointed as the charity’s CEO, and with her background in financial management and fundraising, has managed to lead the organisation back from the brink, even during the COVID-19 downturn.
The strategy she’s implemented at Mummy’s Wish has revolved around a values-based mission to provide tailored, practical support to mums receiving cancer treatment and the introduction of four key values that have driven the organisational vision and culture.
Since she was appointed, Ettia and her team have delivered multiple new projects that have increased the support to mums at Mummy’s Wish, including the launch of palliative and counselling programs.
“Those values have been key, and they’ve kept us all on track,” Ettia says. “at times, due to lack of resources, it has just been extraordinarily challenging. It’s a real privilege to do what we do, and the mums we connect with and support motivate us to deliver more.”
Mummy’s Wish is a beneficiary of the Dry July Foundation. This year, they’re encouraging women to form a team within their workplace, with friends and family, or with a social or sporting club, to join the campaign and raise money to support more mums.
“The goal is to sign up 15 teams to coincide with the charity’s 15th birthday which is celebrated in July. We have 5 teams already, so 10 to go.”
For Mummy’s Wish, support from campaigns like Dry July is critical – not just for raising funds, but also to increase awareness of the practical support the charity is able to provide to mums who really need it.
Funds raised this year by Mummy’s Wish Dry July supporters will go towards support coordinators, connecting mums with cancer, as well as extending counselling services to more mums.
You can find out more about Mummy’s Wish and the Dry July campaign here.