Luke, now seven, 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 to 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 older 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 when he was 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. “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,” Sarah says.
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 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 kids facing cancer – and their families – with opportunities to laugh, make friends, and have glorious grubby adventures! Kids experience time away from home that is centred on pure fun and optimism – it's about being a kid again...
Families get a break from the day-to-day stresses of treatment, which 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 cater to every age, and we run Family Camps for the whole family.