After feeling unwell for almost three weeks, our beautiful five-year old daughter Amelia was suddenly rushed in an ambulance to Sydney Children’s Hospital in July 2020.

Tests tragically confirmed Amelia had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Having a child diagnosed with cancer is terrifying. Suddenly our life was thrown into the unfamiliar world of hospital and cancer treatment.

My husband Bobby and I were both by Amelia’s side for the first 72 hours after her diagnosis, but after that, we were restricted to one carer at a time. These restrictions added to the stress and anguish of an already difficult situation.

With our two other children to care for, Louis and Dekan, the strain on our family was immense. I took leave from my job as a primary school teacher to concentrate on Amelia’s treatment while Bobby juggled full-time work with looking after the boys.

Suddenly, our fun days at the beach and bike trips to the park were replaced with weeks on end isolated in hospital. Amelia missed her brothers and friends at day care terribly.

After feeling unwell for weeks, tests confirmed five-year-old Amelia had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

As such a caring and compassionate child, it was heartbreaking to see Amelia separated from her loved ones and missing out on crucial opportunities such as starting school and making new friends in kindergarten.

Spending so much time in hospital took its toll on our Amelia. It was especially difficult for her to accept the impact her treatment has had on her life, including bravely coping with losing her hair.

As parents, we were trying hard to stay positive and keep Amelia’s spirits high. Luckily, Starlight Children’s Foundation’s services including Captain Starlight and the Starlight Express Room provided vital respite from some very traumatic days.

During treatment, Amelia’s spirits were lifted thanks to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Captain Starlight’s games and laughter gave Amelia something happy to focus on and motivated her to keep coming back to hospital, while the Starlight Express Room gave Amelia the chance to play and just be a kid!

To see the happiness that shone from her when the Captains visited her in hospital was absolutely amazing. If it wasn’t for them, I think I’d still be sitting in the hospital carpark trying to get Amelia out of the car.

Renee with two of her three children – and the family dog!

Our family is so thankful to Starlight and all that they do. We all understand the link between laughter, endorphins and wellbeing – but to see and feel it happen before your eyes is incredible.

Even on the worst days, Starlight made Amelia smile and the relief from any pain or sadness was instant. For a moment, we could forget why we were there and just live in the moment.

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