Little Eli seemed healthy when he was born full term in August 2019, but within seconds of his birth, it was clear that something was terribly wrong.
“I just waited for him to cry, and I never heard it...” Jenny remembers.
Her husband Peter says that moment still haunts him.
“Eli was born by caesarean and all was good for about the first 30 seconds after his birth, then Jen looked at me in panic. ‘Why can’t I hear my baby crying?’ she asked me.”
As the doctors rushed newborn Eli out to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Jenny and Peter had no idea of the heartache that lay ahead.
Over the following hours, as baby Eli rapidly deteriorated, he was ventilated and put in a coma. “We were told that he may not make it,” Peter says.
Eli rallied, but at just eight days old, he was diagnosed with vocal cord palsy and laryngomalacia. At five weeks, he underwent a tracheostomy; a procedure to cut an opening into his windpipe to assist breathing.
It was during this surgery doctors found a lump to the left side of Eli’s neck.
Jenny and Peter’s worst fears were realised when doctors confirmed that the lump was a neuroblastoma: an aggressive tumour that takes the lives of more children under five than any other cancer. How much more could this little fellow – and the family who love him - endure? At only three months, Eli had already undergone two gruelling rounds of chemotherapy on his tiny body. In 2020, the family reached out to Camp Quality for support
As Peter explains, Eli’s ill health and ongoing care took a huge toll on the whole family. Peter and Jenny were barely sleeping and struggling to give their three other children the attention they desperately needed. They were at breaking point.
“We weren’t coping at all,” he says.
This gorgeous little boy has been through so much! A tracheostomy at just five weeks and two gruelling rounds of chemotherapy by three months of age
Our team rallied behind Peter and his family, providing relief with a week away at one of our retreats. Two Camp Quality medical volunteers provided 24-hour care for Eli, so the family could finally get some rest and enjoy a stress- free time together. But it was Family Camp they were most excited about.
Now our camps are back up and running full steam – and there’s unprecedented demand. That’s why we need your help to send more kids like Eli and his family to camp this year.
Kids facing cancer and their families need and deserve the kind of time-out and support that we offer at our Family Camps. With volunteers on hand to play with kids, and all activities and meals taken care of, parents have a moment to relax:
often for the first time since diagnosis. Sadly, for many of the children who have undergone, or are still going through, cancer treatment and are on the wait lists to attend a camp, this is precious time they won’t get back.
For their brothers and sisters, this is precious time too: time to have fun, laugh and make new friends and memories with other kids who understand their pain. And to finally, have quality time with their parents. After all, you only have one childhood.
For their parents? Just ask Peter.
“Before reaching out to Camp Quality, we thought we were the only ones going through this,” he told us. “But through Camp Quality, we have met other families who have walked in our footsteps. Camp Quality, gave us the opportunity to have some time out to ourselves as a family: to regroup and provide care and love to our family. And we really want other families to have the same opportunity Camp Quality provided for us.”
There is unprecedented demand from families like Peter’s to secure a place at one of our upcoming camps planned for 2021. We need you to gift that special opportunity to others like little Eli and Aussie kids like him who are facing cancer.
Will you help?
With your support,we can make up for lost time! This year, we plan to host around 30 Family Camps. That’s happy-memories-in-the-making for around 1800 family members.
Think of your kind donation as the gift of a family ticket to something truly magical: a place where positive memories, not centred on cancer treatment, are made. Happy memories that will last a lifetime for kids facing cancer and for those who love them.