Together we make a difference
We are delighted to have the opportunity to support Camp Quality's important work throughout the year to bring positivity, fun and laughter back into the lives of kids facing cancer. One of their major initiatives is the annual Christmas Appeal, which raises funds to send families, like Theo's, away for a much-needed break around the Christmas period.
If you would like to show your support, please visit campquality.org.au.
Creating positive memories is so important for children battling cancer, like two-year-old Theodore, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April this year.
Theo is Kyle and Ebony’s second child. The high school sweethearts and their daughter, Addison, welcomed Theo just four months before the COVID-19 lockdowns began in Victoria in 2020.
Usually an active toddler
Theo’s mum Ebony says he is usually a typical, active toddler. “Riding his bike, basketball, soccer, football – anything with a ball. Jumping on tables, running on the couch, being loud. That’s our boy.”
So, when Theo had lingering sickness, significant bruising and became pale and lethargic, Ebony, a paediatric nurse, knew something was very wrong. “I went to the Emergency Department and said, ‘I know I’m being an over reactive mum, but I want you to take some bloods, check everything for us.’”
Ebony's biggest fears were confirmed when the doctors told her Theo had leukaemia. “I was by myself and in absolute shock. I’m not even sure if I cried, I was just horrified.”
Theo was transferred straight to Monash Children’s Hospital and began treatment within days. “He was on steroids 36 hours after he was diagnosed and onto chemo the next morning. Straight into it and we didn’t leave the hospital for a week,” Ebony says.
A new arrival
Ebony was 29 weeks pregnant at the time. She and Kyle welcomed their baby girl, Finley, to the family a couple of months into Theo’s treatment. Kyle describes Finley’s arrival as a welcome distraction. “She’s been a little ray of sunshine.”
In a strange way this was good timing: they were able to keep Finley’s cord blood as it could save Theo’s life if he were to relapse in the future.
“The doctors say, ‘We’re going to save your child,’ but there’s still a chance of things going wrong,” Ebony says.
Treatment is a gruelling two-year ordeal, and chemotherapy lowers Theo’s immunity, making even the slightest cold potentially life-threatening. Between the pandemic and cancer, Theo has spent most of his life isolated at home or in hospital.
For Kyle, seeing his son’s life limited to the four walls of their home or a hospital ward has been really difficult. “It’s emotionally tolling for Eb and I. Watching Theo decline so rapidly was just soul crushing, just seeing your boy change like that and you can’t do anything about it. But you just have to be there with a smile on your face and try and make every moment fun for him.”
In August this year, Camp Quality sent them to a Family Retreat on Phillip Island to get away from it all for a weekend.
“It was a much-needed getaway. One of the best things we did was see the penguins come ashore. I could tell the kids loved it, especially Theo. He was at a stage in his treatment where he could enjoy it as well; he was mobile, he could walk, he was running and laughing and walking next to these penguins.”
Making it possible
Camp Quality supplied the family with everything they could possibly need, including fuel vouchers, grocery vouchers and passes to local tourist sites so they could make happy memories together.
Camp Quality's Family Retreats provide kids and their families with the opportunity to go away on a holiday, relax and make positive new memories – often for the first time since a diagnosis. Retreats are so in demand that Camp Quality now offers them in five states.
Donations to the Christmas Appeal can help to send families like Theo's away for a much-needed break at Christmas. Show your support at campquality.org.au.