Losing a loved one to cancer shakes the whole family to its core. Karl and his three girls were still reeling from having to say goodbye to their wife and mother two years earlier. Then Lana was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. It’s hard enough to see an adult go through cancer, but to have to face it again with a seven-year-old is unthinkable. Karl had no choice.“Devastated was an understatement for how I felt. Disbelief, shock, I can’t even find the words for it,” Karl says. “We hadn’t got past the girls losing their mum, and here it was again.”
Lana’s treatment plan was scheduled to last two and a half years.“It’s a long treatment, Lana was on chemo every day at home, then once a fortnight we had to go in to hospital for IV chemo. Once every three months she had to have a lumbar puncture and chemo at the same time.”
But no parent can be in two places at once. While Karl was by Lana’s hospital bedside, her sisters didn’t have their dad. For Libby the eldest it was particularly scary – she was old enough to understand why her mum was no longer with them. And that Lana was facing the same disease. Thankfully, Karl heard about Camp Quality from the hospital social worker. Libby was the first in the family to experience camp.“The camp for Libby pretty much just gave her the chance to go out and meet more kids other than just her school friends and it gave her the chance to talk about what was going on with her sister if she wanted to,” says Karl.
“The camp also gave Libby the option to try things that she hadn’t done yet ... things I hadn’t been able to get around to doing with her, whether it just be simple games or flying foxes. She got to have a nice time away from home, away from everything, and just have a bit of fun for a change.”
Once Gabby, the youngest, turned 10, and Lana’s health improved, Lana and Gabby were able to go on a Kids’ Camp together. “It’s such a healthy environment for them. They've made so many friends and they've bumped into people from the ward.”
Karl got to share these experiences with his daughters when they all went on Family Camp together. It was a chance to finally make some new memories, not centred on sickness and to reconnect. Lana is doing well. Karl and his girls are looking forward to reaching the five-year ‘all clear’ milestone. The prognosis so far is good. But there’s still another 36 months to go.In the meantime, camps give the family welcome relief when they really need it. An opportunity to get away, have fun and make precious new memories.
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