Mel Zerafa and Brooke McArthur have both faced any mother’s worst nightmare – finding out your child has cancer. Yet under incredibly difficult circumstances the two women found a 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, and both mums had to leave their husbands and other children at home.
Struggling to adjust to life in hospital they found familiarity and comfort after 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 super mums created an unbreakable bond.
Mel and Brooke faced some of the scariest moments together, watching on as their boys went through a barrage of intensive procedures, which often caused severe reactions. They 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 child facing cancer should have the chance to be a kid again. Our services and programs are made specifically to help children aged between 0-13 who are dealing with their own diagnosis, or the diagnosis of someone they love. Help us fund a Family Camp today.