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Dads helping dads cope with their child’s cancer

Oliver, whose baby girl was diagnosed with cancer when she was born, wants other dads know that they don’t have to go through their child’s cancer alone.

Oliver Coppins, who experienced his first Father’s Day in a neonatal intensive care ward worrying whether his week-old baby girl would outlive leukaemia, wants other dads know that they don’t have to go through their child’s cancer alone.

He is a participant in Redkite’s Dads Connect Group, a free professional service provided by the leading childhood cancer support charity.

Ollie said that the Dads Connect Group gave him a confidential outlet to express his emotions with other men going through a similar experience.

“Being able to communicate with other dads gives you an opportunity to say: ‘What are you guys doing about this?’ or ‘Has this happened to you?’. If it gets emotional, they don’t feel like they have to be strong because we’re all there to support each other.

“The group also provides an opportunity for those guys who might not feel comfortable showing their emotions in front of their loved ones, but they’re happy to share their story with us,” he said.

Ollie’s daughter, Ava, was born in Hobart on 30 August last year and was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukaemia – acute megakaryoblastic leukaemia.

The young family were rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne to undergo lifesaving cancer treatment hours later, where they would stay for the next eight months.

Ollie said it was difficult to experience his first months of fatherhood in hospital. One of Ava’s first milestones, her smile, came during her first round of chemotherapy, at six-weeks-old.

“I’ll never forget that moment. I think it was just her way of saying to us: ‘It’s OK, mum and dad. It’s going to be OK. I’m alright. I’m still happy’.

He is looking forward to his second Father’s Day at home with Ava, who is now in remission.

“I’ll probably get bacon and eggs or something in bed if I’m lucky. It’s definitely going to be a lot better than the last one, that’s for sure,” Ollie said.

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