Meet Lydia and Snowflake Princess
If you think Snowflake Princess is the name of a small fluffy hound, think again! Snowflake Princess is six-year-old Lydia's British Bulldog.
For her Starlight Wish, Lydia wanted nothing more than a loyal cuddly companion to be by her side as she battled gruelling rounds of cancer treatment. Her mum Melinda says she cannot imagine their family now without the joy the puppy brings.
"The puppy has been the most perfect addition to our family and has helped heal us all after the pain of the last 18 months," she said.
Lydia was a happy outgoing little four-year-old when got sick with a gastro bug. After ten days and still not better, Melinda took her to the doctors.
The following day, her condition worsened and she was sent to emergency at their local hospital in Hobart where X-rays revealed the devastating diagnosis.
Melinda said the shock was unimaginable: "Suddenly I was in a room with 15 doctors, and they told me that Lydia had a brain tumour. It just knocked the stuffing right out of me; I've never experienced anything like it in my life."
Lydia needed surgery straight away to remove the mandarin-size tumour. All Melinda could do was wait as her youngest daughter endured the eight-hour procedure the very next day.
Surgeons discovered that Lydia had Ewing's Sarcoma - a rare type of cancer of the bone.
Melinda was then faced with the news that Lydia needed further surgery and intense chemotherapy at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
Melinda describes that time as a rollercoaster as their family life was turned upside down. For the mum of five, it was heartbreaking to have to move so far away.
"Lydia was used to a busy family household filled with noise and laughter so she missed her old life terribly," Melinda said.
In all, Lydia spent 18 months in hospital in Melbourne and Melinda's not sure how they would have coped without Starlight being there. She said Captain Starlight was their "saviour" in hospital. "It was such good therapy for both of us to be able to laugh and have some fun."
Whenever Lydia had to have a painful test or procedure, the promise of a visit from Captain Starlight would bring a smile to her face, and the Starlight Express Room was a welcome break from the long and exhausting days in hospital.
Back at home in Hobart, Melinda said Lydia is "blossoming", and with her four-legged friend Snowflake Princess by her side, she's ready for anything.
Lydia's got a strong personality, we call it sweet and sassy - a real fire in her belly. She's our little warrior and now she has the perfect companion.Melinda, Lydia's mum
The two are inseparable and love jumping on the trampoline together and scooting around on their skateboards. From the moment Lydia met her puppy, the bond was instant. Melinda said Lydia's Starlight Wish has been life-changing for the whole family.
Lydia's Starlight Wish has helped heal us. Snowflake's filled a gap in all of us and she seems to read our moods. It feels like she's always been part of our family.Melinda, Lydia's mum
Lydia still has to be in hospital every three months and Melinda said they're so thankful to Starlight supporters that Starlight is there for them.
"We are so incredibly grateful for everything Starlight's done for us over the last couple of years. Starlight gives you a break from the reality - it's good for the heart, good for the soul and good for the mind. We just can't thank you enough."
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