How Starlight gave Addy and her family a "great escape."
Four-year-old Addy likes to remind her big brothers who's in charge! She's a happy independent little girl who adores her dancing and swimming, and most of all just being with her brothers Ethan and Bailey.
The family had recently bought their first home and life was busy with the buzz of renovating, trips to the beach and three active kids always on the go. That all changed dramatically one morning just weeks before Addy's third birthday.
"Addy woke up and she couldn't walk; it just came out of the blue," Addy's mum Kristen remembers.
The family was faced with the devastating news that Addy had an aggressive form of childhood cancer.
Addy's dad James said nothing can prepare you to hear a doctor say: "Your daughter has cancer, it's Stage 4 Neuroblastoma and it's spread throughout her body."
In that moment, it was like our whole world stopped spinning and our hearts were being torn from our chests, and there was nothing we could do to stop it happening.Kristen, Addy's mum
Life became consumed by hospital, blood tests, chemotherapy and isolation. The family live five hours from the children's hospital in Sydney, so Kristen and James made the difficult decision to stay in Sydney to care for Addy during her treatment. Bailey was about to start big school and Kristen said she and James wanted to try and keep things as "normal as possible" for the boys. Kristen's mum moved in to look after the boys and made the long drive to Sydney every couple of weeks.
Every aspect of their life changed. James took 12 months off work, and the boys had to stop all their after-school activities due to time and money constraints. Addy missed so much of her old life. She missed her room, her toys and not being able to swim or dance. And she missed Ethan and Bailey terribly.
"The boys love her dearly and are fiercely protective of her. It was awful to watch her have to battle this disease but also be torn away from them and be put into a totally different world that no child should have to live in," Kristen said.
Thankfully, Starlight came into their world and helped give them all a "great escape." Kristen said it was wonderful for Addy to get out of the ward and away from the routine of hospital life and go to the Starlight Express Room.
The Starlight Express Room always made Addy smile and forget about what horrible things had happened that day.Kristen, Addy's mum
The Starlight Express Room has been an amazing help to the whole family and Ethan and Bailey always love visiting to see what's new. And when the boys can't be there, Addy loves talking about them with Captain Starlight!
Kristen said that Addy would always talk about the fun she'd had with Captain Starlight, instead of talking about whatever procedure she'd had that day. "We will always be eternally grateful for the Starlight Express Room and every single Captain Starlight."
The Starlight Express Room is always so lively and happy that even on days when we didn't think we could smile or laugh, the Captain Starlights would always brighten our days and make Addison happy. I'm honestly not sure how we would have coped otherwise.Kristen, Addy's mum
Given how much Addy adores her brothers, it was no surprise her Starlight Wish was all about being together as a family. Addy's Starlight Wish was for a Camper Trailer so the family could go camping. They had been saving up for one when Addison was first diagnosed but financially it was just too difficult.
Now thanks to Starlight supporters, the wish has given the family some much-needed time away together.
"It's been an amazing way for us to do something we all love and that makes our children so happy. Without this, we wouldn't have been able to go away and get a break in between Addy's treatments," James said.
And the best part for Addy? "I get to spend time with my brothers and mummy and daddy and have fun away from home. And I love a camp fire too!" she said.
Starlight has helped the family have some bright moments during very dark times.
Starlight has made Addy's journey filled with so many happy memories that replace all the horrible experiences she has gone through. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for all you do to support Starlight.Kristen, Addy's mum
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