Rohan was just eight when a rare form of cancer struck. It started with severe tummy issues and not being able to walk upright.
Suddenly, he was miles from his beachside home on the NSW Central Coast to the Children's Hospital at Westmead and commenced gruelling treatment for Burkitts Lymphoma.
Parents Kate and Michael said the shock diagnosis left them speechless. Worse still, it came at a time when the family were getting prepared to move overseas for the adventure of a lifetime.
"We couldn't believe it was happening. How could our smiley, outgoing boy be so very ill?" Kate said.
Doctors found a tumour wrapped around Rohan's bowel and appendix. He would remain in hospital for the next five months undergoing urgent life-saving treatment for his aggressive form of cancer.
For a social kid who loves AFL, surfing and riding his bike, the isolation and loneliness Rohan experienced while in hospital was initially unbearable
"Rohan missed playing with his friends and his diagnosis affected his sense of belonging," Kate said.
Having Starlight in hospital gave Rohan the opportunity to make the social connections he craved.
During his long months in oncology, Captain Starlight visited Rohan on the wards, playing games with him and telling jokes to distract him from everything he was going through. It helped keep Rohan’s spirits up and the Captain's fart jokes were definitely his favourite!
The Captains come and visit you, and turn your whole day around, making you feel happier.Rohan
Rohan's chemo treatment meant back to back weeks in isolation.But even on his hardest days, he could still have a fun pick-me-up by calling Captain Starlight and participating in Starlight TV quizzes and activities.
His mum said, “The ability to call the Starlight Express Room from his hospital bed was so beneficial. Rohan could speak to people other than us or his medical team. With the Captains, he could joke around and just be a normal eight-year-old boy.”
When Rohan was feeling well enough, he loved visiting the Starlight Express Room to enjoy playing the mega wall of Mario Kart and mingle with other kids.
Kate said the happiness that Starlight brings is so important to sick kids’ wellbeing.
If kids don't laugh, what else is there? Tears, anger and depression.Rohan's mum, Kate
Kate and Michael are so thankful to Starlight supporters, saying. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You have added some sparkle and joy during a traumatic time in our lives."
While Rohan still can't return to school for now, he is excited to know he's been referred for a Starlight Wish - to meet his beloved Fremantle Dockers AFL team once the season resumes.
Watch this space...!
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