Angus Olsen lives in Katoomba NSW Australia with wife Rachel and daughters Holly and Jane. Together the family owns and operates CafeXpresso, a kiosk cafe located just outside Katoomba Railway Station. It is here inbetween making coffee for customers Angus creates resources for children and their families all over the world facing childhood cancer.
Jane was just 2 years old when on the 7th August 2016 after recurring bouts of abdominal pain. A radiographer late at night discovered a dark mass and Jane was rushed to The Childrens Hospital at Westmead Sydney. There Jane was diagnosed with abdominal Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma or ERMS (an aggressive connective tissue cancer). Jane underwent 54 weeks of chemotherapy, months of hospitalisation, multiple infections, ICU twice, experimental HIPEC and a 700 gram tumour surgically removed. Jane has been in remission since May of 2017.
Angus has a history of working artistically including a short time with Walt Disney Television Animation. While living in hospital with Jane Angus began to draw what it felt like. He only managed 6 frames before Jane was admitted to ICU as the tumour pressed against her vital organs and and she came down with influenza. It became too hard to draw.
Jane began to improve and was released from ICU. However cancer therapy continued to be a challenge. It was at this time the Facebook page (I draw childhood cancer) was created. Angus drew and shared the images on Facebook as a way of communicating the things about cancer there are no words for, a diary of images to share with friends.
Angus began meeting other fathers through Facebook groups with children facing the same cancer as Jane. A friend asked Angus to draw a picture of his daughter also facing cancer. Angus went onto draw many children facing RMS cancer reflecting their strength, beauty and character. All the things that define them beyond their illness.
As some tragically passed away works began to reflect the grief, loss and struggles of childhood cancer.
One afternoon Angus decided to try his hand at a simple book about Nasal Gastric Tubing or NG Tubes. NG Tubes are a frustrating necessity for most cancer children and a source of great stress. Angus hoped that a simple book might help children and their families better understand the importance of NG Tubes.
“My 4 year old who has leukemia just had one put in on Wednesday and I showed him the drawings and read it to him and it helped so much but I want to have it so I can read it and show him again for when the bandage has to be changed. I think what you do is just wonderful, not only are you helping to raise awareness but also helping children to understand what they are going through and making it less scary. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. These draws have made things a little easier for my child and so many other children and families so thank you. God Bless”
This was one of many messages from around the world from parents using the booklet. Seeing how important simple visual material can be Angus immediately focused on making books for cancer children as fast as he could.
Today Angus raises money for childhood cancer research through sales of art prints that now hang in hospitals and continues to work on Childhood Cancer material. Angus also works with charities providing customized peer reviewed material for clinics and social media content. Due to the generous donations of hundreds of people Angus has been able to buy computing hardware, software, webhosting and self publishing to make I Draw Childhood Cancer available to children everywhere. Angus looks forward to the future with 3 main goals.
1. Support oncology children with material assisting their cancer therapy.
2. Support parents with works that empathise with their situation so they have a voice.
3. Fund childhood cancer research to one day end childhood cancer.