Last week, Ben was having chemo. This week, he surfed with his hero.
This Starlight teen got the surprise of his life at the beach
Last week, 16-year-old Ben was in his hometown of Adelaide, undergoing chemo to fight brain cancer. Fast forward one week - he's at Snapper Rocks on Queensland's Gold Coast, enjoying what he thinks is just a relaxing family holiday for his Starlight Wish. Little did he know how much more was in store for him that day!
Picture this - Ben's at the beach with his family, waiting on a "local" to give him a surfing lesson. Guess who turns up instead? Three-time world surfing champion and proud Starlight ambassador, Mick Fanning - who has been Ben's surfing idol for years!
Ben's passion is surfing; he's loved the water since he was young and hasn't looked back since he caught his first wave years ago. "Cancer" wasn't even in this sporty, health-conscious family's vocabulary, until March, when Ben was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Since then, he's endured three brain surgeries, seven rounds of chemo (with five more to go) and countless physiotherapy sessions - so surfing's been something he's missed a lot this year. Being able to watch his hero Mick dominate at the World Surf League from his recovery bed has really helped him get through.
When Mick surprised Ben, he was absolutely gobsmacked! His Mum, Lucy, could have sworn he and his twin brother, Jack, almost dropped their surfboards and according to Mick, Ben looked like he'd seen a ghost! Humble Ben and his family were only expecting a quick surf session with Mick, but he generously gave the boys a whopping 2.5 hours in the water together, sharing heaps of tips to help the boys' confidence.
When we asked Mick what the highlight of the Wish was, he said "definitely after the boys caught a good wave each, just seeing their faces, and how excited they were, jumping around - that's the beauty of surfing. To see that, made my day." What a legend!
After the surf, Mick took Ben and his brother into his Coolangatta Ripcurl shop for a surf gear shopping spree, and Mick signed both boys' surfboards for a lasting memory - a pretty cool way to round it all off!
When we got to round seven of Ben's chemo, we just didn't know how we'd get through. This is what's going to help him get through.Lucy, Ben's Mum
It was an incredible day for everyone involved - for Ben, who'd have been happy with just a photo with his idol, for his family, who saw firsthand how much his time with Mick had impacted him and will continue to do so, giving him renewed strength for his upcoming chemo; and for Mick, who'd done such an amazing job of putting a smile on a sick teen's face. He gave Ben and his family a day they'll never, ever forget!
It's the sick kids out there who are the real heroes. A week ago, Ben was having chemo and today he's out there surfing with me - what an inspiration.Mick Fanning
Huge thanks to Mick, Lachie and Matt at Surf TV and the team at RipCurl Coolangatta for granting Ben an unforgettable Starlight Wish!
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