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"When I was 19, I was cleared of cancer." What happened the next day was devastating.

Jason Carrasco and his best friend Cassie Nascimento shared a bond like no other.

The kind of bond that comes with the experience of battling cancer in the prime of your life.

Jason was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 18 while Cassie diagnosed with a rare brain tumour at 16.

The pair fought for their lives, together, on-and-off over three years during a time when they should have been enjoying the end of high school.

But in a cruel twist of fate, the day Jason received the all-clear, Cassie was diagnosed with another brain mass that had come back in two parts of her brain. She passed away in November.

In tonight’s episode of Sunday Night, journalist and cancer survivor, Sally Obermeder told Jason and Cassie’s heartbreaking story.

 Jason Carrasco wrote for Mamamia in May this year.

This is Jason and Cassie’s story in Jason’s own words. 

I was in my final year of school when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 18. I was confused and scared and had to have months of gruelling chemotherapy and two operations to cut out the cancer.

The initial diagnosis was overwhelming but finally became bearable when I was introduced to Cass Nascimento, who was the same age as me. She was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour when she was 16. Before I was diagnosed she had been through three brain operations and had the strongest chemotherapy and radiation available. Despite her own battles, Cass was always, and always will be, a source of strength for me.

Cass and I fought cancer together – on and off – for three years. She was the only one who knew what I was going through, and I could understand how she was feeling too.

When I was 19, I was cleared of cancer. In a cruel twist of fate, the very next day Cass found out her brain tumours had come back. Throughout our friendship, there wasn’t a time when one of us wasn’t sick but that just meant that one of us was always there to support the other, no matter what.

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Sadly, Cass lost her battle with cancer in November last year.

Cass was so passionate about Sony Foundation and the need for You Can centres to connect thousands of young Aussies in need of support. I am just one of many people Cass helped and continues to inspire. Everyone needs a Cass. Everyone needs a buddy to show you that the light at the end of the tunnel does exist and everything is going to be alright when you’re going through chemo.

Through it all, I’ve realised that anyone going through illness or adversity are often told we are strong. But personally I didn’t find this strength on my own. It was the quality that grew from my support network and my friendship with Cass. It was that text message asking how I was; it was those countless hours she spent with me holding my hand reassuring that this too would pass. Through Sony Foundation’s You Can program, hundreds of young Australian will have the opportunity to develop friendship like Cass and I. To help other young adults believe that this is not just their fight, but ours.

I believe nobody can go back into the past and start a new beginning, but everybody can start today and make a new ending. Cass sadly lost her battle but has already touched so many people’s lives and given them hope. The friendship Cass has created through her smile, her visits to hospital, her beautiful words and silent strength, are endless. The people she has helped will go on to help others.

Cass’ mum Gloria, who was such a source of strength for Cass and I and other young people with cancer in the hospital, is continuing to grow Cass’ legacy. Gloria has been awarded NSW Mum Of The Year after I nominated her and she deserves all the recognition she can get. She is an incredible mum.

With my battle over, now I just want all young people to have the chance to be that Cass for someone. To save other people lives, just like Cass saved mine.

 

You Can Walk 4 Cass is a 5km fundraising walk to be held in memory of Kanahooka local, Cass Nascimento, who lost her battle with brain cancer in November, 2013.

Cass was an ambassador for Sony Foundation’s youth cancer program, You Can, and worked passionately with Sony Foundation to raise awareness of youth cancer and the need to establish specialised youth cancer centres and services. You Can is based on the power of human connection, and is ensuring young people don’t have to fight their battle alone.

The walk will take place in Wollongong on Sunday, November 9, 2014 and we are encouraging everyone to get involved, do the walk and raise funds for Sony Foundation’s You Can Program.

Following the walk, Sony Foundation, together with the Wollongong community, will be throwing a finish line celebration, featuring celebrity hosts, special performances, local DJs, food stalls and more. Please join us for the morning, into the early afternoon, as we remember the beautiful Cass Nascimento and raise funds for You Can.

To find out more, call 1800 YOU CAN.

You can donate to You Can here. Please share this post to help raise awareness about how ‘you can’ help people like Jason and Cass.

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