Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

CanTeen volunteers giving back to community (+ video)

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Local teenager Emily Wikotu knows what it's like to have your family affected by cancer.

Emily, 17, is one of the volunteers out on Rotorua streets today as part of the CanTeen annual street appeal.

CanTeen Rotorua volunteers are stationed at Pak'nSave and The Warehouse today and tomorrow.

Emily said she had been involved with CanTeen for four years and she volunteered to do the street appeal to help out a good cause.

She said her brother had had a tumour and it affected the whole family, not only emotionally but they also had to arrange their house and living to suit his wheelchair.

Her brother was diagnosed when he was 6 and has been given the all clear this year at the age of 18.

"It feels good being able to help support, not just my brother, but all the other young people living with cancer."

CanTeen did not just run things for young cancer patients, but also workshops for their siblings, she said.

She said the appeal was going well apart from the cold weather, having sold a bunch of raffle tickets and bandanas.

"Some people are really nice and kind, and have given us donations."

Emelie Edworthy, 16, said it was her first time doing the street appeal and she did it because she wanted to help other people around her age.

She said it was an important cause for the community to get behind.

CanTeen Rotorua appeal co-ordinator Selena Maxwell said CanTeen supported the whole family, not just the sick children, making the siblings feel important and helping them to get through their own journey.

CanTeen Rotorua member support co-ordinator Emma Taylor said throughout Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane they had 41 volunteers helping them man five sites.

"We are so grateful for their support."

She said CanTeen was the only organisation which was dedicated to supporting young people when cancer derailed their lives.

"Whether it's their own cancer diagnosis or the diagnosis of a sibling or parent, cancer has a massive impact on young people when they're already facing challenges of identity, independence, education, relationships and employment.

"CanTeen helps 13 to 24-year-olds find their voice and their feet at a time filled with uncertainty."

She said as a charity CanTeen relied on the support of the community and corporate partners to keep its services running.

"The annual street appeal is one of our most important local fundraising activities where we ask the community to dig deep and help ensure no young person faces cancer alone."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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