Diagnosed with bone cancer aged 9. Leg amputated above the knee. Relapsed aged 12: cancer in the lung. 22 courses of chemo. Tristan Knowles’ cancer journey tested him before he was even a teenager. Tristan Knowles, OAM, today (29): Australia Wheelchair Basketball Gold Medallist, Beijing Paralympics. Silver medallist, London Paralympics.


Camp Quality took Tristan on 8 of our Camps in Canberra, where he learnt the power of unrelenting optimism and resilience. Tristan says: “As any child with cancer and their families know, these periods are tough. Lots of time is spent in hospitals; the family unit is often apart. Although we try and stay positive, it can be extremely hard.


Camp Quality for me was one of the major things that kept me positive and focused on moving forward and beating cancer. Whether it was the next major camp or simply a weekend outing, these are things that gave me the strength to keep fighting. The power of the mind is absolutely amazing. I was convinced that I’d beat cancer a second time. Nothing was going to stop me. I think my positive outlook was crucial in my survival. In terms of my basketball, I’ve tried to apply the same approach: nothing is going to get in the way of my goals and dreams. In fact, I apply this to all areas of my life.”



It was tricky for five-year-old Isabella’s family to laugh in 2010. Mum Laura still remembers the shock of her daughter’s diagnosis: “In 24 hours, our whole world collapsed.”


Camp Quality’s programs are designed to give children like Isabella the strength and resilience to face the world. Look how well she’s doing now; Laura says: “Last year was an introduction to activities to see how Isabella’s energy levels would cope. On holiday she was jumping in the pool and riding her bike - nobody would know she was sick. She has a full head of hair now.”



It’s been quite a journey for the family. Sisters like Ashley find it hard to process the trauma her family is going through. Laura says: “Ashley was quite unsettled. When we were at hospital lots, she had some behavioural issues – lots of anger inside: ‘you love Isabella more, if I had cancer you’d love me like you love her.’ Even though she’s so protective of her sister, we also had to reassure her lots. But she hasn’t said anything like this for some time.”


“Family Camp was absolutely a turning point for us. Talking to other families going through it makes such a difference. It was great to see families who’d come out the other side. We’ve since been on another Family Camp in the snow – a great way for us to spend quality family time.”



Camp Quality is the children’s family cancer charity. Our purpose is to create a better life for every child living with cancer in Australia. The services we provide for children (0-13 years) living with cancer and their families help create a better life by building optimism and resilience. We support families no matter where they live in Australia, throughout each stage of their cancer journey.


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Suite 6, 44-46 Oxford Street, Epping NSW 2121
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