Finalist Caitlyn Meiklejohn shows off her invitation to the Pride of Australia Medal ceremony.
Finalist Caitlyn Meiklejohn shows off her invitation to the Pride of Australia Medal ceremony. Erin Smith

Pride of the Rose City True courage in face of adversity

RECOGNITION was not the motivation behind Caitlyn Meiklejohn's mission to raise as much money as she could for cancer charity Camp Quality.

But the 11-year-old cancer survivor, known around Warwick as CJ, admits it was a nice surprise to get a letter in the mail saying she had been named a state finalist for the Pride of Australia Child of Courage Medal.

"I was nominated by Camp Quality," CJ said.

"When I first found out I had been nominated I didn't really know what it was or realise how big it was.

"When I read the letter saying I was a finalist, I screamed.

"I was really excited."

There are 10 award categories.

CJ has been nominated in the one for children under the age of 16 who have helped save or attempt to save the life of another or overcome personal adversity through determination and strength of character.

That description fits perfectly with what CJ has undertaken in the past few months.

CJ has managed to beat a brain tumour.

While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments and making numerous trips backwards and forwards between hospitals CJ managed to talk a fair few Warwick residents into shaving their heads to raise money for Camp Quality.

She raised a total of $13,000.

CJ said fundraising was her way of giving back.

"Camp Quality helped me and I wanted to raise money so they could keep having camps," she said.

Her mother Sharyn Meiklejohn, who also shaved her head for the fundraiser, said she was incredibly proud of her daughter and everything she had achieved.

Mrs Meiklejohn said the fund-raising efforts were the family's silver lining during the difficult times.

"It was our way of turning something negative into something positive," she said.

"When I look back now it was a way of diverting our energies into something positive.

"It would have been easy to sit at home and say 'why me?' but we focused our energies on something positive to help other people."

And while CJ is fully aware her life will never be normal, with trips to hospital and scans and doctors appointments, she said she was glad to be back at Warwick West with her friends and able to do the things she loves.

"I am back at school and it is awesome," CJ said.

Also making the cut as "awesome" in CJ's book is the colour of her new hair.

"I love the colour, but I am not too sure how I feel about the curls," she said.

The Queensland winners of the Pride of Australia Medal will be announced this afternoon.

Caitlyn admitted to being a little nervous, but said she was mostly looking forward to showing off her new dress, shoes and accessories at the ceremony.

The state winners will attend another ceremony in November when the national winners will be announced.

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