Luke (7) was a happy three-year-old on holiday with his family when small bruises began to appear. A few weeks later, on his sister’s seventh birthday, Luke was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. His dad Ryan, an emergency paramedic, says he was dumbfounded. “He was part of our world and a little ray of sunshine and then just the thought that there was a potential to lose him. It rocked everything,” he says.
From the day he was diagnosed Luke began a two year treatment regime, which meant his parents ‘tag teamed’ between hospital and home to care for Luke and his siblings Cade (13) and Abby (10). In the midst of it all Ryan vividly remembers their first hospital visits from Camp Quality saying, “The wonderful and amazing bunch of people from Camp Quality would come through with these beautiful loud t-shirts, these beautiful smiling faces, a caring warm word or a joke, a balloon, a puppet…they brighten the child’s day.”
The side effects of Luke’s treatment prompted tough questions and confusion from his siblings. Camp Quality’s Primary School Education Program puppet show visited their school to help explain what was happening to their little brother to them and their friends.
Once he was well enough, Luke was thrilled to attend Mini Camps and Family Fun Days. But Abby and Cade were not forgotten. They went on Aged Camps designed just for kids, which gave them a chance to normalise what they were going through and have some much needed fun with Companions chosen just for them.
Cade’s Companion Alex, battled leukaemia himself at twelve, which helped Cade understand that people ‘can come out the other side.’ They also shared a passion for footy, something Cade could no longer enjoy with his little brother. Abby is a reader and was paired with Renee, a Companion who shared her love of books.
It was a huge relief to Luke’s parents that Cade and Abby could be the focus for a while. Sarah says, “When you’re in the middle of intensive treatment, you’re just trying to keep the family going, you haven’t got a lot of time for any extra things. Camp Quality took some of that burden off by giving the older kids some experiences.”
The cancer journey can be long. As Cade’s Companion Alex says, at 22 he is still on it. Luke’s siblings will continue attending Aged Camps to enjoy the resilience-building optimistic fun that Camp Quality knows is essential to support a whole family living with cancer.
Ryan says he can’t encourage people enough to support Camp Quality.
“They give kids and families the experiences and the times that they deserve.”
About Camp Quality's camps
Our camps provide an essential break away from the stresses of a cancer diagnosis for both kids and their families. Kids experience time away from home that is centred on pure fun and optimism. Families get a break from the day to day stresses of treatment, which also allows for parents to reconnect and bond with siblings who often feel a little neglected. We also provide the opportunity for kids and families to form life-long friendships and support networks. We connect people who are going through similar situations and who are at varying stages of their cancer journey. Our camps range from kids only Mini Camp to Junior Camp and Middle Camp. We also run Family Camps that cater to the entire family.