When Olivia visits the Starlight Express Room at the John Hunter Hospital she's not known as Liv, but as Captain Crazy Balloons! She even has her very own Captain Starlight costume lovingly hand made by her Nan.
Sadly, since being diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma when she was six, Olivia's been in hospital for months on end.
The shock of the diagnosis was unimaginable, and suddenly family life was consumed by hospital. Olivia started treatment straight away and for the following six months, was admitted for five days every 21 days.
Ryannah said every aspect of life changed. "There was so much personal sacrifice, but we did everything in our power to make sure we made life as normal as possible for Olivia."
Ryannah had to stop work to care for Olivia, and Dad Nathan took extended leave. It was hard on Olivia's big sister Lara, who missed their time together laughing and playing after school. The girls are close and very protective of each other, and Ryannah said the change impacted them all.
"Lifestyle changes meant we had to limit what we did as a family to keep Olivia healthy during treatment," she said.
Amid all their pain and sadness, the family found a place where they could be together and the girls could laugh and play again. During their agonising weeks in hospital the Starlight Express Room became their haven.
The Starlight Express Room is a place that siblings can visit and feel safe from the world as they currently know it. It's where kids can just be kids. Starlight has an incredible impact; words cannot describe how happy we are that Starlight was there for us during and after treatment.Ryannah, Olivia's mum
The Starlight Express Room was a 'happy place' where Olivia could spend time away from all her medical treatment and have fun, make friends and forget about everything that was happening. And during the months when Olivia was unable to visit the Starlight Express Room, Captain Starlight brought the fun to her on the ward.
"The Captains brought smiles, laughs, jokes and games on those days when she was feeling miserable. Olivia would often not speak to anyone but when Captain Starlight walked through the door she would light up," Ryannah said.
She describes the Starlight Express Room as not just for kids! The whole family was welcomed and helped them cope with the pain and stress of hospital.
The Starlight Express Room made a difference to our family's hospital experience, bringing laughter and a place to visit that gave us time out from everything that we were dealing with.Ryannah, Olivia's mum
Olivia loves singing and dancing, so the Captains at John Hunter Hospital had an idea to help her celebrate the end of her treatment. They surprised her with a flash mob dance! Her mum said it was such a special day and made Olivia feel happy beyond words.
Captain Starlight is Olivia's hero of fun, and she loves that she has her very own Captain name!
Ryannah is so grateful that Starlight has been there for Olivia during her long and gruelling rounds of treatment. To Starlight supporters she said: "I don’t know how anyone gets though this experience without the assistance of Captain Starlight and the Starlight Express Room. We could just say thank you, but that would never be enough."
Excitingly, Olivia will also have her Starlight Wish granted soon - stay tuned!
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