Comedian Andrew Barnett, wife Natalee and sons Teddy, six, and Oscar, eight, were just like any other active young family. The boys are close in age and enjoyed nothing better than mucking around in the backyard, having loved to make each other laugh since Teddy was a baby in his stroller. Both boys were keen to try new things, and at four Teddy had just started soccer.
It was around that time that things changed. For Andrew there was no definitive moment, their new reality came in stages. First Teddy had a stay in Bankstown Hospital, then a transfer to Sydney Children’s Hospital and finally the bone-marrow test that changed their world with Teddy’s Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) diagnosis.
“When you’re a busy family, everything is about juggling many things, doing as much as you can,” Andrew says. “When Teddy was diagnosed everything became very small and focused. That one thing becomes priority over everything.”
The family’s life soon revolved around Teddy’s treatment. The hardest part of this was that the brothers missed each other. When Oscar could visit they would lie on the bed together and watch TV. When Oscar was home, Andrew and Natalee regularly used Facetime so the boys could see each other.
Thankfully they also discovered the hospital was full of diversionary activities to help Teddy cope.
“Teddy loved the puppets,” Andrew says. “He also loved Child Life Therapy. There was always stuff happening to keep him engaged and fill the day.”
The boys went on their first Mini Camp while Ted was still undergoing treatment.
“Both boys were so excited,” Andrew says. “It was the best day. Mini Camp was one of the few things we felt comfortable leaving Ted at during his treatment. Camp Quality is set up for kids in his situation and that gives parents a lot of peace of mind.”
The family also got to enjoy Family Fun Days, including an incredible New Year’s Eve on the GE building. After so much focus on Teddy, it was also super exciting for Oscar to attend a Junior Camp. He had lots of fun with his buddy and got to experience his first ever sleepover.
This will be the first Christmas for the family since Teddy has been in remission.
“It will be such a relief not have to worry," Andrew says. “For so long we had to constantly monitor his temperature because his immune system was compromised, but this Christmas we are taking the boys on their first ever camping trip. That was never an option while Teddy was on treatment.”
The family are looking forward to Teddy also being well enough now for a Family Camp and all the other firsts in store for them all.