Rebecca's story

We were told Bec had stage 4 cancer and from that moment everything went ballistic.

- Dana, Rebecca’s mum

Rebecca was a happy 14-year-old kid from Newcastle. One day her right leg started to hurt and her mum Dana thought she had strained a muscle and thought nothing of it.


When the leg pain persisted and didn’t show signs of getting better, Rebecca’s mum took her to the doctor. After multiple visits to the doctor, blood tests were ordered and the results showed that something wasn’t right.

We were sent to the John Hunter Children’s Hospital to have more tests done and we met with multiple doctors to try and get to the bottom of what was wrong

- Dana, Rebecca’s mum

Devastating news

Rebecca’s mum never expected that it would turn out to be something serious, and explains her shock when she found out what was causing Rebecca’s leg pain, "Bec dealt with it quite well. She never broke down in tears in front of me. Me being her mum - I broke down in tears." 


Rebecca was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer which attacks muscles in the connective tissues, and was immediately admitted to hospital. Rebecca’s tumour was 10 cm by 5 cm and it had spread to her lymph node and had already reached stage 4. Rebecca and her family were devastated, but Rebecca showed courage beyond her years.

When we were first told Rebecca had cancer I broke down in tears but Rebecca was so brave and dealt with everything a lot better than I did.

- Dana, Rebecca’s mum


Rebecca's treatment started with a heavy dose of chemotherapy and her days were filled with extended hospital stays. There were times when it was pretty hard for Rebecca to get up and go to the hospital because treatment was so hard on her. Eventually she’d say to her mum, “I have to do it, I need to get through my treatment”.

The good news

Finally Rebecca’s family got the wonderful news that it was time for Rebecca to move onto maintenance treatment. This meant Rebecca still had to go into hospital once a week but was able to continue her treatment at home, but this joy was to be short-lived.


In August 2016, Rebecca and her family received the devastating news they were hoping never to hear – Bec’s cancer had returned and her relapsed cancer was very aggressive and considered incurable by standard treatment.

Zero Childhood Cancer

Before she passed, Bec hoped to be enrolled on the Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program. When Bec found out that approximately $20,000 will pay for the testing components required for one child to benefit from the Zero Childhood Cancer program, she decided she wanted to fundraise for kids just like her.

In what can only be described as an act of total selflessness, Bec decided to lead a crowdfunding campaign – aiming to raise $20,000 in just 35 days. Without initiatives like Zero Childhood Cancer, sadly, Bec knew children just like her had very limited options. Bec hoped that by sharing her story, the community would help to fund this vitally important program.


On 13th December 2017, aged just 17 years old, Bec Cooper passed away peacefully surrounded by her loved ones.

Rebecca's legacy

By the end of her campaign Bec had reached an incredible 191% of her target raising over $38,000 for our research.

Dana has continued Bec's fundraising for our vital research as an amazing ambassador for Children's Cancer Institute.

Rebecca had been my rock to be quite honest. Because of her smiles and her way of dealing with it, that’s what’s kept me going.

- Dana, Rebecca’s mum

Zero Childhood Cancer

The Zero Childhood Cancer Program is the most ambitious childhood cancer initiative ever undertaken in Australia. This program is led by Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick bringing together all major Australian clinical and research groups working in childhood cancer to offer Australia's first ever personalised medicine program for children with high-risk or relapsed cancer.

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