real life

A mother's heartbreaking letter to her sons about their father's impact on the world.

Dear Jett and Levi, 

You’d be so proud of your Daddy. You’re only three and one years old but I’m writing this now because I want it to be one of the very first things you ever read when you learn how.

Your Daddy was so brave. Thousands of people around Australia know his name – for a very very good reason that he’ll never even know about.

He was very sick with a nasty disease called melanoma. He fought it for a very long time – for 15 years, ever since Mummy and Daddy first met.

The magic medicine to stop him from being so sick was really, really expensive. The medicine had a funny name, ‘Keytruda.’ It costed so much money that we couldn’t afford it, not even one dose. 

Daddy didn’t think it was fair that people with lots of money could get the medicine but families like ours couldn’t. He kept saying this over and over again and telling important people. Nobody was listening to him and he started to run out of time. He starting getting really sick again and going back to hospital, where the nee-nor ambulance took him. He needed the magic medicine more quickly than the important people would let him have it. 

Shane with his son, Jett. Image via Change.org.

So he used the laptop that Mummy sometimes lets you play with. On it, he started something called a petition. On the petition, he included a picture of you and him, Jett. Then he wrote why he thought it was unfair that the medicine that could make him get better costed so much money. Especially because other countries let people with Daddy’s type of cancer have the medicine for free, or not much money at all!

Daddy wasn’t sure if anyone would listen to him and his petition. But then something big happened.

Lots and lots and lots of people signed his petition - 172,000 people. That’s more than one hundred times the number of people who go to your whole school!

Levi, you were in Mummy’s tummy when Daddy did this and nearly ready to come out! He got really really poorly when Mummy’s tummy was getting big with you inside it. Even though he could have just stopped his petition and rested in bed, he didn’t. He kept on fighting for the medicine to be lots cheaper because he knew something. 

ADVERTISEMENT

He knew, even if it didn’t make Daddy better, the magic medicine could make thousands of other people with melanoma better, even after he died. 

So he told all the people who signed his petition to keep talking to the important people about this medicine. This would mean other sick people could get it for not too much money. 

Before you came out of Mummy’s tummy, Levi, Daddy went up to heaven. Heaven is for people who have been really really good to other people. We know Daddy is definitely there because his petition won, Levi and Jett, and it saved thousands of lives.

You were still in my tummy, Levi, when we found out Daddy’s petition winning means that 1,400 people with melanoma every year will be saved or live longer. That’s lots of lives saved.

Dannii with Jett and Levi. Image via Change.org.

Boys, today I spoke to a lady called Emma, who has the illness Daddy had. Because of his petition, Emma can get that magical medicine, Keytruda. Emma said

“After being given 3 months to live at 22, Keytruda bought me time. Keytruda gave me over two years with my new husband, family and friends that we never thought I had. The treatment kept me alive long enough to be presented with more options.” 

Jett and Levi, my hope is that when you grow up to be big boys, you’ll be exactly like your Daddy. Because your Daddy was the bravest fighter in Australia who saved thousands of lives - and he went up to Heaven before he even knew that he’d saved them.

All my love always, 

Mummy xxx

This story was originally published on Change.orgIf you'd like to leave a message for Shane's children to read as they grow up, you can do so here

00:00 / ???