14 July, 2010
Story by: Bonita Silva
Photo provided by: Chis Boyd
Chris Boyd, a twenty-one-year old law and international studies student at UTS is at the forefront of an exciting new charity, following his recent recovery from sinus cancer.
One year on, and after extensive radiation treatment, Chris is back to a full time load at university, working part time, and operating his own charity, Australian Youth Against Cancer (AYAC).
“Towards the end of my treatment, I went back to uni and just focused on moving on from the whole thing. But I also wanted to give back to the hospital and do something about the issue of cancer in young people,” Chris said.
AYAC’s success has virtually grown overnight, thanks to a solid UTS support base. Chris Boyd and Ian Bacon, a business student at UTS, are currently in training for the first major appeal. The two will be paddling the Murray River – a two and a half thousand-kilometre distance to raise money. Nicholas Del Din, a law and journalism student at UTS, has been working as the media manager to expand AYAC’s role in the greater youth cancer network. Michael Munk as President of the UTS Law Students’ Society has jumped on board as a Partner to the foundation, and will be co-hosting a fundraising night in August.
“Since I’ve started the charity, the support from the university has been overwhelming. I was also awarded the UTS Alumni Association Achievement Award at the UTS:Law Awards Ceremony earlier this year for my charity work,” Chris said.
With a strong interest in international law, Chris hopes to one day be working with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the United Nations (UN), or to practice international law. Chris also hopes that should his charity grow to an extent that allows him to combine his two major passions, he would be able to use his legal knowledge within an AYAC framework.
One significant aim of AYAC is to build Australia’s first comprehensive youth cancer network; an interactive place where diagnosed patients in their twenties and thirties can read shared experiences.
Chris’ experiences also led him to understand the tribulations faced by young people faced with such an ordeal, and aimed to remedy the lack of information for those who would go through the same experience.
“When I was actually going through my treatment, I found that there was a lot of information out there for younger kids, for older people, those with breast cancer and prostate cancer. There was nothing for university students and people my age. I went through this largely without a role model or somebody that I knew that had emerged through it,” Chris said.
Chris was holidaying in Hawaii when he first noticed the symptoms of his sinus cancer. A biopsy confirmed the existence of a table-tennis-ball sized malignant tumour in the centre of his head – an Embyronal Rhabdomyo Sarcoma, a rare cancer usually only found in children.
“They told me it was inoperable, as it was just below my brain. Initially I was told there was probably a five-year life expectancy. To hear that on diagnosis was really heavy,” Chris said. “[But] my experience was really a positive one. Despite the fact I had some bad news, I don’t look back on it as a bad thing because I consider myself literally the luckiest person in the world.”
In December 2010 Chris will be taking part in the AYAC Murray River Appeal, where he will spend approximately 2 months kayaking from its source in the Kosciusko National Park to Lake Alexandrina in South Australia - a distance of over 2700 kilometres. Click here to find out more about the appeal and make a donation.