One moment, 4-year-old Chase had a bulging tummy and tonsillitis, and the next day he was admitted to oncology at the Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Chase and mum in hospital

"When the specialist said the word cancer, I just remember my whole body shaking with fear," mum Kelly recalls. "I tried so hard not to show Chase how devastated I was."

On March 9, 2018 Chase was diagnosed with Wilms Tumour - childhood cancer in the kidney. He needed urgent surgery to remove the 13cm tumour.

The life-saving operation was taxing on Chase. He was in immense pain post-surgery and he suffered a collapsed lung.

His doctors were worried his tumour would return so there was a minimal relief between Chase’s surgery and 12 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and 26 blood transfusions.

Chase with Dad and sister

"Chemo saved Chase but it came with a price. The type of chemo Chase had has affected his fine motor skills like handwriting and it's stunted his growth. He still has regular tests to check his hearing and heart function. In the future, he could not be able to have children because of the type of chemo he had," Kelly explains.

Hospital filled Chase with terror. He was afraid of "the big machine" (which administered chemo) with his fear was so strong, he would attempt to would run away when he saw it. He couldn't stand seeing his central line flushed so had to pop a blanket over it to cope.

Chase in hospital

Chase "was born with confidence", so it was heartbreaking for Kelly to see her little boy so terrified.

Kelly said without Starlight, Chase would not have coped with the trauma.

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With so much time in isolation, the Captain Starlights became Chase's best friends in hospital.
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Chase's mum, Kelly

Seeing Chase laugh and be happy with the Captains lifted Chase's mood and helped Chase's older sister, Kyndra, enjoy some much-needed time out with her brother after missing him at home.

Chase with Captain Starlight

Even for his follow up appointments now, the medical team know to find Chase in the Starlight Express Room as his go-to space to relax between tests.

Thankfully, Chase is now in remission and by his side when he proudly rang his remission bell in hospital were his favourite Captain Starlights, cheering him on.

Chase in remission with Captain Starlight

Kelly said Chase's quarterly hospital visits are still emotionally draining as they wait to hear if the cancer has returned.

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Chase has a genuine fear of returning to hospital - he throws up in the car on the way in and he's never car sick. It helps to calm Chase knowing that if he returns to hospital, he can be reunited with Captain Starlight again.
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Chase's mum, Kelly

Kelly is so thankful Starlight has helped her son push aside the bad hospital memories and replace them with good thoughts instead: "Starlight became our "family" in hospital, our support network. We can't imagine hospital without the Starlight Express Room and Captains, and we don't want to imagine it!"

Chase with Captain Starlights in Starlight Express Room

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