Girl hopes a special win may help teens with cancer

Support group: Jessica Olson is a finalist in the 2012 Girlfriend of the Year competition.
Support group: Jessica Olson is a finalist in the 2012 Girlfriend of the Year competition.

WHEN Jessica Olson, 16, of Menai was in hospital for chemotherapy treatment last year, she wished there could have been some activities for teenagers.

The year 11 student at Menai High School was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last May and was in and out of hospital until she went into remission in December.

She was out just in time to attend her year 10 formal.

"I was in hospital with little babies and kids," Jessica said.

"I would have liked to have been in a teenage ward around other people in similar situations so I could have made friends. They had clowns and fairies, but that didn't really raise our spirits."

The aspiring journalist is one of six finalists in this year's Girlfriend of the Year competition, a national campaign that aims to honour the accomplishments of outstanding teenagers, with a prize of $5000.

If Jessica wins, she wants to donate the prizemoney to You Can, a campaign run by Sony Foundation and CanTeen to help fund youth cancer centres.

They raise money by recycling old mobile phones.

"It would have been nice to be in a teenage ward and maybe have an X-Box, computer or laptop around," Jessica said.

"You Can only gets free advertising, so if I can donate the money they could buy a bigger advertisement. I just want to pitch in."

Jessica said having cancer had really opened her eyes.

"Some of my friends drifted away but my true friends were really supportive, " she said.

"You hear about people who have cancer but you never really hear about what they go through.

"I'm not the same person I was before cancer.

"I'm a lot more focused now and I appreciate everything more, including school."