Indi Wealleans was diagnosed with cancer in 2019. It was Ewings sarcoma. There was a tumour wrapped around her spinal cord. She was two years old.
Indi underwent chemotherapy for nine months and had two spinal surgeries. She went into remission and remained there for three years. The cancer came back in August last year.
“Treatment the second time was a mix of clinical trial chemotherapy, six weeks of daily radiation and six months of what’s called maintenance chemo, which a daily low dose,” Indi’s mum Aneke Tunnage said.
Now seven years old, Indi is again in remission. She attends Te Maire St Francis of Assisi Catholic School, she does cartwheels, she cracks jokes and smiles at everyone. As her mum puts it, “she’s the life of the party”.
She’s also the inspiration for Joel Lam, Crusaders Academy Member, to complete a huge physical feat as part of The Long Run – a Crusade with Heart Foundation event raising money for Child Cancer Foundation.
Lam works as a teacher aide at Indie’s school and was touched by her story.
“I met Indi at St Francis where I work and ended up getting to know her and her story,” Lam said.
“It’s pretty touching and pretty inspiring, especially hearing that kind of story from a seven-year-old.”
Lam, who debuted for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, is planning to do a 42km run, a 42km Ski Erg, and a 42km bike.
“I’ve always wanted to do a big challenge like this, so I figured who not do it for a good cause,” he said.
Child Cancer Foundation supports more than 1,100 families every year and needs to raise at least $6million every year to do so.
“They’re very close to our hearts, we’ve been involved with them for five years,” Aneke said.
“They are very supportive in a wide range of ways, whether it be financially through petrol vouchers or contributing to your power bills, or emotionally, offering counselling to families.”
To donate to Joel Lam’s efforts, check out the The Long Run fundraising page. You can donate as well as register to walk/run and fundraise for the cause – as an individual, as a team, or as part of the Corporate Challenge.