DHS staff join the fight against childhood cancer

Smiling man

A father whose five year old son died from brain cancer has pledged to work tirelessly to raise money for childhood cancer research to help other families fighting for their children’s lives.

Department of Human Services Social Work Support Manager, Jon Wannberg’s son Ricky died in 1996.

“My boy was one of three from separate families who passed away from brain cancer within a month of each other – they were really good friends,” said Jon.

His colleagues at the Morley Service Centre in Western Australia have been quick to support him. Jon and the team’s latest fundraising effort saw him shave his head and much loved facial hair, generating more than $1000.

The families have established the 3 Boys Legacy (3BL), a brain cancer research project administered by the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (CLCRF).

Fundraising efforts by 3BL and CLCRF have raised much needed money for equipment and research, which has greatly helped the team at the Telethon Kids Institute for Child Health Research.

“I’m always looking for an opportunity to raise funds for children’s cancer research, whether it’s running a marathon in England or Sweden, or having my beard and head shaved clean here in the Morley Service Centre,” Jon said.

CLCRF Executive Officer Wendy Kearns said the quest to find cures for childhood cancer is one of medicine’s greatest success stories.

“Fifty years ago only two percent of children with cancer survived and medical research alone has improved overall survival rates to 80 percent,” Wendy said.

“However with childhood cancer still the leading cause of death from disease in Australian children, there is more work to be done.

“There are still particular childhood cancers, such as brain tumours and neuroblastoma, with survival rates as low as 50 percent.”

Jon said he is thrilled and humbled by his colleagues at the Department of Human Services who always support his fundraising efforts. “This shows how committed department staff are – they genuinely care about people who need assistance and help wherever they can.

“Reducing the number of kids we lose to cancer is really important, not just to me but for so many other families.”