Earlier this year, Theo was a typical, active toddler. When Theo became pale and lethargic, his mum Ebony knew something was very wrong. She took Theo to the Emergency Department where her biggest fears were confirmed. Theo had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
“I was by myself and in absolute shock. I’m not even sure if I cried, I was just horrified.”
Theo was transferred straight to Monash Children’s Hospital and began treatment within days.
Treatment is a grueling two-year ordeal which lowers Theo’s immunity, making even the slightest cold potentially life-threatening. Between the pandemic and cancer, Theo has spent most of his life isolated at home or in hospital.
For Theo’s dad Kyle, seeing his son’s life limited to their home or a hospital ward has been really difficult. He says,
“Watching Theo decline so rapidly was just soul crushing, just seeing your boy change like that and you can’t do anything about it. But you just have to be there with a smile on your face and try and make every moment fun for him.”
One of Theo’s biggest challenges has been watching his older sister, Addison running and playing outside and not being able to join her. Kyle says,
“He wants to do it, but he just physically can’t. The steroids really slow him down. You can look in his eyes and tell that he doesn’t understand what’s happening and why it’s happening.”
At the time of Theo’s diagnosis, Ebony was 29 weeks pregnant. She and Kyle welcomed their baby girl, Finley, to the family a couple of months into Theo’s treatment. Kyle describes Finley’s arrival as a welcome distraction.
“She’s been a little ray of sunshine.”
After months of treatment and isolation, on top of sleepless nights with a new baby, little Theo and his family needed a break.
In August this year, Camp Quality sent Theo’s family on one of our Family Retreats on Phillip Island to get away from it all.
“It was a much-needed getaway to just do something different. One of the best things we did was see the penguins come ashore. I could tell the kids loved it, especially Theo. He was at a stage in his treatment where he could enjoy it as well; he was mobile, he could walk, he was running and laughing and walking next to these penguins. It was just the best to see their happy faces down at the beach,” Kyle recalls.
We supplied the family with everything they could possibly need, including fuel vouchers, grocery vouchers and passes to local tourist sites so they could make happy memories together.
“Camp Quality put smiles on our faces and gave us a chance to make some memories for the kids, things we can remember. We’re going to look back on them and know that we tried to do our best to get a positive out of all of this. And that’s thanks to Camp Quality,” Ebony says.
Family Retreats provide kids and their families with the opportunity to go away on a holiday, relax and make positive new memories – often for the first time since a cancer diagnosis.
Family Retreats are so in demand that we now offer them in five states. But with over 250 families signing up to access a Family Retreat in just the last two months, we need your help.