October 29th 2018 is a day Kate and James will never forget. It was the day their bright and bubbly daughter Paige was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
She had just turned five.
Paige had had been unwell on and off during winter, but nothing prepared the family for the devastating diagnosis.
"It was such a shock," Kate said. "Within hours of a blood test, Paige was diagnosed with cancer and we were in an ambulance heading straight to Canberra Hospital."
Paige needed to start treatment immediately in Sydney but was too unwell to travel by air. They faced an agonising wait for Paige to stabilise before she could be transferred to the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.
Suddenly instead of dancing and having fun with her sister Phoebe, Paige was in hospital for months on end. Chemotherapy left her exhausted, in pain and often too unwell to leave her hospital bed.
Ultimately, the family made the difficult decision to relocate from their home in Canberra to Sydney to be near the hospital for Paige's treatment.
Kate said every aspect of family life was impacted. "It's been a huge year of adjustments, especially when we had to move to Sydney. We appreciate the little things and try to make the most of each day."
Thankfully, amid the family’s pain and sadness, Starlight was there helping them cope with Paige's illness and treatment.
When she was feeling well enough, Paige loved visiting the Starlight Express Room to take a break from treatment and have fun with Captain Starlight. She could do craft and play games like she did before she got sick.
Kate said the Starlight Express Room was a fantastic escape for both Paige and her sister Phoebe. "It's often hard on siblings who can feel left out. The Captains always made a fuss of her and she could just be a kid again."
On days when Paige couldn't leave her hospital bed, Captain Starlight would visit her with fun and games to lift her mood helping her get through her long days confined to the ward.
The Starlight Express Room is an extremely important and magical place. When I told Paige after nine months that she wouldn't be having treatment in Sydney anymore, she said: 'But I'll miss the Starlight Express Room.' I think that sums up what Starlight means to her.Paige's mum, Kate
Starlight helped make Paige's time in hospital a happier and more positive experience and Kate is so thankful to Starlight supporters.
Life can get pretty bleak in the Oncology ward. We've had a really tough journey over the past 11 months, so we are really appreciative for what Starlight has done and continues to do for our family.Paige's mum, Kate
There was more Starlight magic to come, when Paige was granted her Starlight Wish.
She was over the moon with excitement. Planning her wish gave her something fun and positive to focus on after so much pain and sadness.
Before her diagnosis, Paige and her sister loved holiday time together drinking pineapple juice and playing mermaids in the pool.
Since her illness and treatment began, Paige has dreamt of nothing else.
So, for her Starlight Wish she asked to travel to the Gold Coast to meet a real-life mermaid!
To Starlight supporters, Kate said, "Thank you for granting Paige's Starlight Wish. We are so excited. We talk about it every day and Paige has even created a special calendar to count down the days."
The girls even have new swimmers ready for their upcoming trip.
Paige missed the innocence of being a five-year-old girl enjoying the simple life of starting school. We are now looking forward to being together as a family, celebrating Paige, laughing and having fun in the pool.Paige's mum, Kate
Stay tuned for Paige's magical mermaid wish to be revealed!
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