William had recently started kindy when the Camp Quality Puppets came to do a show at his school. His mum, Alison, was at school that day with his baby sister Emma, so they saw the show too. Alison remembers thinking, "Thank goodness it's not my kid".
But that Christmas Eve, William ended up in hospital, having blood tests done due to unexplainable sore ankles. His T cell count was high, but Alison was told not to worry about it until after Christmas. In the New Year, more tests followed and Alison was given the terrible news that William had cancer.
Alison and William had to fly from home in Alice Springs to Adelaide for treatment immediately. When a few days later a nurse sat down to ask William what he knew about cancer, Alison expected him to say nothing. But William’s response surprised her. He had remembered the Camp Quality Puppets. "'Oh yeah, I know all about that', he said ... He had that kind of positive context around what cancer is and surviving cancer, and being a bit bald and no one picks on you. It was all much less scary," Alison says.
It was the beginning of a long, tough year in hospital. William’s mum, little sister and grandma moved to Adelaide, and Dad, Michael, flew down as often as he could. William fought 13 different infections and spent over 35 days in the intensive Care unit. He missed all of Year One and lost his hair. His little sister, who had been so young when it all begun, could not even remember home.
After a full year away, William was finally well enough to return to Alice Springs and eventually school. A few months later the Puppets were back at his school. So much had happened to William, but there he was again among his friends watching the show. Alison was able to explain to the kids: "Well William had cancer and that’s why he wasn't here for grade one. There were kids in his class who didn’t know him back then and they were like 'Oh wow'."
The family spent so much of their time apart last year that they are excited to all be attending a Family Camp soon. William will keep needing regular tests but is currently enjoying his new passion for dancing and spending time with his sister.
To help kids like William deal with the ups and downs of cancer, and their return to school, donate now.