The mother of a cancer sufferer from Glen Innes has thanked the town for the support she and her family have had.
Six-year-old Poppy Challacombe was diagnosed with leukaemia on Valentine’s Day – February 14 – and since then she, her parents and little brother have spent virtually the whole time at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.
Away from home. Disconnected from all previous normal life.
Poppy’s mum, Casey, said she was grateful for all the help the family was getting. There’s a trivia night at the Services Club on Saturday, August 18 to raise money.
There are four young victims of cancer from Glen Innes: Poppy Challacombe, Bradley Knox, Tommy Gill and Josie Grob.
Their families have each had their lives turned upside down as they’ve had to transplant themselves from Glen Innes to be permanently near the child who is being treated.
Casey Challacombe said their lives were spent in the hostel on the premises of the John Hunter Children’s Hospital, in the hospital’s departments treating Poppy or in the car park walking between.
They’ve come to call it “hurry up and wait” – they hurry to medical appointments and then wait while the process goes on. Chemotherapy, for example, takes six hours.
They are tied to the hospital: “It’s hard because you can’t go and do other things. If Poppy gets a temperature we have to get back to the hospital”.
One of the problems with the cancer treatment is that it severely damages Poppy’s ability to fight off what to the rest of us might be minor infections.
With all the waiting, you might think that there is room for other activities. Casey and her husband, Murray, did try to learn musical instruments but the distraction of dealing with such a weighty matter as your daughter’s life and death was too burdening.
Poppy keeps in contact with her friends at school in Glen Innes through video link ups. Her mum said that this was reassuring. “She can see what they’re doing. Sometimes, we just watch. It’s just nice for her to see them”.
Her mum said seeing other work prompted her to do her own school work.
The prognosis is good. Poppy is due to finish her intensive chemotherapy in October. After that, she will still need less intensive chemotherapy every month for two years.
But at least, they can return home and pick up the pieces of their lives. Poppy’s father, Murray, was a chef but had to give that up to be near his daughter and family. The family finances have been shattered: “All our savings are gone”, said the mother.
The trivia night starts at 6 pm on August 18 and it’s organised by the Glen Innes Lioness Club.
The other beneficiary will be the family of Bradley Knox who is being treated at the Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney. He was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma on April 10. His eleventh birthday was on April 28.
Ewing’s sarcome is described as “a very rare type of cancerous tumor that grows in bones or the soft tissue around bones, such as cartilage or the nerves. It usually affects people from the ages of ten to 20”.
But the medical authorities say it has a high rate of being cured.