When Sofia Tsalidis was 13 she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer.
During 27 rounds of chemotherapy, 27 blood transfusions, four surgeries and a limb salvage surgery she made friends with other children with the same cancer who did not survive.
Ms Tsalidis knows how fortunate she is to have been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma early.
And after a long battle that disrupted schooling and presented many challenges through her teenage years the 19 year old wants to help others going through what she did .
Ms Tsalidis was recently declared in remission and cancer free. But she has never forgotten her friends who did not make it.
And is now fundraising for the organisation that did so much to help her and them.
Ms Tsalidis is so grateful but wants to continue to raise money well into September which is Childhood Cancer Month.
The final total will be a legacy for those many lives she saw lost to such an aggressive cancer.
Ms Tsalidis can't help but feel guilty that she survived when so many of her friends didn't. But she is determined because this is something she can do to help raise awareness and funds to hopefully help other children and teenagers survive.
Ewing Sarcoma is a type of tumor that forms in bone or soft tissue. Signs and symptoms include swelling and pain near the tumor.
Ms Tsalidis said remission in the cancer world is when you have five years with no recurrence. So June 6 was a good reason to celebrate. But she was still thinking about her friends who didn't make it.
She was in Year 7 at Saint Mary's and was just making the adjustment to high school when she was first diagnosed.
"I decided to play soccer that year. I was always into team sports. I was always playing netball, Oztag and things like that," she said.
"Halfway through Year 7 I started noticing when I was playing soccer this pain in my left knee. I never really knew what it was. I went to some physios but that brought no conclusion. I finally went to a GP. An MRI was done and I was diagnosed.on the 19th of August, 2013".
Along with all the chemo Ms Tsalidis had a prosthesis put into her leg as a knee and femur replacement but still has restricted movement. But despite all the disruption to schooling and sport she counts herself really lucky to have been diagnosed early.
"The tumor was just located in that one spot. It hadn't spread," she said.
"Of all my cancer friends I got to know through hospital I.don't know of one other person who has survived or is not enduring it for their third of fourth time. Relapse rates are high and mortality is extremely high. It is very aggressive".
"Once I was going through my cancer treatment it was definitely an eye opener. Prior to this experience I had never known how significant childhood cancer was and how many kids die from it. I think being in that environment you definitely see there is more research required".
Even as a young teen Ms Tsalidis was thinking about how she could help and do her part in funding more research and helping other children and teenagers.
Then six months ago she realised she could use her voice from the experience of going through it and her social media platform to raise funds for an organisation that she has seen assist so many. And that is Kids Cancer Project which does many things including providing funds that help labs run clinical trials.
"I am so lucky to be here. I know so many others who didn't make it. I thought how can I use my voice to help others".
Ms Tsalidis's mother Luisa Tiberio and family are extremely proud. They know she has experienced survivor guilt after losing so many friends. And they know there is no manual to deal with that.
"I lost many friends during my treatment. And I still hear of some who don't make it and stories of little kids who haven't," Ms Tsalidis said..
But Mrs Tiberio said her daughter has a support network of people she keeps in contact with internationally online who are able to confide in each other. And that has been an important help. But many of those people have not survived either.
Ms Tsalidis is now in a position where she can look to the future and make plans.
She is presently at UOW College completing all the schooling she missed. And then wants to move into medical and health science as a career.
."After everything I have seen that is how I want to continue making a change," she said.
"I want to either go into pathology or radiology".
Mrs Tiberio said her daughter had to grow up really quickly when she was 13. And knows she will continue to make a positive impact for many people in the future.
"Doctors were really up front about what was going on and she had to be part of the decision making back then. She has been really good at researching and I am really proud of her. And I am proud of what she wants to do. She still struggles emotionally and psychologically. But I think channeling her energy and trying to focus on something that she child is affected when their sibling is so ill. And Ms Tsalidis has a twin sister Nicola.
But an example of how proud every family member is of Sofia Tsalidis is her big sister Christina Tsalidis who told the Illawarra Mercury about what she is doing to help others.
So the family celebration on June 6 was as much about a celebration of Sofia being cancer free. As it was marking the beginning of how she is using her experience and voice to help make a real difference for others going through what she did.
"She just wants to share her message and is determined to help others," Christina said.