Zoe was just three years old when her childhood became overshadowed by leukaemia. By the time she started kindergarten, her hair had already fallen out due to chemotherapy – twice.
It was a terrible time, recalls Zoe’s mum Charlotte, made only worse by the fact Zoe was targeted at school with hurtful remarks about her short hair.
“There were comments like, ‘Why is that boy wearing a dress?’ Zoe used to get really upset,” Charlotte tells Camp Quality.
A special connection with the Camp Quality Puppets
Luckily, Zoe had a secret weapon: her friendship with the Camp Quality Puppets. Zoe met the puppets while receiving treatment in hospital, and now they were coming to her school to support her.
In a fun and interactive show, the puppets were able to help Zoe’s classmates understand what she had been going through with leukaemia and how they could be a good friend.
The puppet show, as part of Camp Quality’s Cancer Education Program, also allows children to ask questions in an open and friendly environment. Importantly, the puppets dispel myths – such as you can’t catch cancer!
Thanks to their visit, Charlotte says the community “rallied around” Zoe and she was able to settle into school life and make new friends.
“The show really allowed kids to ask questions and understand it wasn’t all about appearances,” explains Charlotte. “It was just about something Zoe had been through, and Zoe would get through, and one day she would have long hair again.”
Charlotte (01:27 – 00:11:17): If there’s one word to really describe that feeling, that sense of what was coming towards us, it was just terrifying.
Stuart (00:14:15 – 00:36:04): Receiving that news is something that no one ever expects is going to happen to them. Your life changes very quickly. Shortly afterwards, Camp Quality visited with the puppets and her eyes just lit up and they were so gentle in the way they initially sort of spent a few minutes with her steadily bringing her out of her shell.
Charlotte (00:36:10 – 00:56:03): A real distraction from all the traumatic things that she had to go through every time and towards the end of her stay in hospital, she could hear them coming down the hallway. She couldn’t really articulate her words very well, and she just started calling them the poppets. The puppets were one of those activities that broke up the day.
Stuart (00:56:05 – 01:02:10): It gave us something to focus on, something to get excited about. It just made her whole day completely different.
Stuart (01:05:03 – 01:33:13): One of the challenges that Zoe faced starting kindergarten was having been away from other children. At the time, she also had pretty short hair, which is unusual for a 4 year old girl. There were children that were a bit confused, they said. Why is that little boy wearing a dress? Why is that little boy wearing pink The puppets were able to come in and explain the journey that Zoe had been through so that the other kids understood why Zoe was the way she was.
Charlotte (01:33:13 – 01:48:25): And I think that really allowed kids to ask questions and understand that it wasn’t all about appearances. It was just something Zoe had been through. And that Zoe would get through. And one day she’d have long hair again. And that’s what the puppets really helped her with.
Charlotte (01:51:08 – 02:21:18) I think for Zoe having the puppets at Kindergarten was an extension of her friends bringing her friends to her new friends and showing what she’d been through over that last 12 months and the bonds that she’d formed. Even though Zoe had short hair, she was still Zoe, and it became a non-issue. But the community really did rally around, and I think it’s things like the shows coming into those settings really made a difference.
Zoe (02:27:01 – 02:37:26): See you number 1 at hospital! Number 1! I had fun seeing Kylie!
Would your school or child’s school enjoy a visit from the Camp Quality Puppets?
No-one can stop children from getting cancer. But we can make sure they are given the chance to just be kids again.Request a Puppet Show Today