Most teens have busy lives juggling school activities, socialising, sports and hobbies. On top of all the usual aspects of teen life, 14-year-old Eden has to contend with regular hospital stays, ongoing clinic appointments, physio sessions and six-weekly medical infusions.
Since being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at age seven and then arthritis this year, this has been Eden's life.
Her mum Robyn said despite everything she has to endure, Eden is always positive and upbeat.
"She’s an incredibly brave teenager with a sunny disposition. Even when the going gets tough - and it has been tough for a while - she still smiles and finds humour in everyday situations."
Sadly, Eden's mum also has the same condition so at the moment of diagnosis, they knew what lay ahead for their little girl.
Robyn said: "We were aware that with the diagnosis came a long journey of therapies and a lifetime of chronic disease. We have to factor in a lot of time for doctor’s appointments and hospital visits; it's become part our family routine."
The stress and anguish of the condition as well as the ongoing costs of medical treatments takes its toll on the close-knit family.
Eden misses a lot of school and has extra lessons to help with her education and mum or dad George have to be on hand to help with homework and assignments. Robyn said it affects not only her education but impacts her socially too.
That's why Starlight's teen program Livewire is such an important part of Eden's world.
Eden spends a lot of time on Livewire on-line connecting with other teens in a safe and positive environment. It's a fun space where she gets to be herself.
"Chronically ill kids can have a hard time fitting in at school - they look different, have a lot of time off school and therefore other kids don’t bond with them as readily. So their differences can alienate them socially. On Livewire they are totally accepted without any judgement," Robyn said.
Livewire is just for teenagers and young people living with serious illness, so Eden says there's a shared sense of life experience and she has made so many friends from right around Australia.
Eden was over the moon when she had the chance to meet some of her Livewire friends at the recent Virgin Australia Starlight 30th anniversary celebration. "To finally meet face to face was beyond exciting!"
Eden said the Livewire community is always so supportive. "We all have medical challenges and there’s no judgement at all. I like how you can talk to people on Livewire about anything. You can’t really talk to other people about having a disease and being chronically ill as they do not understand it," she said.
Livewire has had such a positive impact on their lives and Eden's mum said, "Whilst doctors and nurses take care of a sick child’s health, Livewire helps contributes to their mental wellbeing. It gives them a break from being sick – there is somewhere they can go that is fun, nurturing and all inclusive."
It's only thanks to the generosity of supporters that Livewire can continue to play a vital role supporting young teens and people living with a chronic illness or disability.
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