Mel Zerafa and Brooke McArthur have both faced any mother’s worst nightmare—finding out your child has cancer. Under incredibly difficult circumstances, the two women found one silver lining—each other.
Mel’s son Ethan (11) was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma in 2016, and Brooke’s son Hayden (7) was diagnosed with Leukaemia the same year. Both had to leave their husbands and other children at home.
Struggling to adjust to life in hospital they found familiarity and comfort after coincidentally being paired to share a room together on the oncology ward. Whilst not the most conventional place to meet new friends, it was here the pair of super mums created an unbreakable bond.
Mel and Brooke faced some of the scariest moments together, watching on as their boys were met with a barrage of intensive procedures which often caused severe reactions. They both spent almost a year in hospital together and found solace in each other’s strength and understanding.
Ethan received the all clear in December 2016. Hayden is in remission from Leukemia but will still require oral chemotherapy and monthly lumbar punctures. Though Mel and Brooke can take a sigh of relief with both of their boys back at school and out of hospital, they live in constant fear of what the future may hold for their sons. The possibility of secondary cancers and long-term side effects will remain uncertain as they do their best to get back to normal life. “Our families live in a world of limbo”, Brooke says.
During treatment, Ethan had his femur and knee removed and replaced by a titanium prosthesis. “There are certain activities that he just won’t ever be able to do again”, explains Mel.
Through the ups and downs, the tears and sleepless nights, Brooke and Mel have had each other’s backs. “You have your friends and everybody tries to understand, but I just don’t think you really understand unless you are a mother or parent of a child going through the same thing.”, says Brooke.
The families continue to attend Camp Quality programs and events, revelling in opportunities to spend quality family time together. “Camp Quality offer a silent understanding and all-encompassing warmth, where the kids can be kids (and we can too!)” says Brooke.
At Camp Quality, we believe every Australian child impacted by cancer should have every opportunity to thrive. We do this by providing innovative programs and services to develop life skills and strengthen the wellbeing of children aged 0 – 13 growing up with cancer, and their families.
Help us fund a Family Camp today.