WHEN Nora Holly (3) was diagnosed with a rare tumour that was crushing her spinal cord, hospital suddenly became a home away from home for the young girl and her family.
Ahead of Starlight Day tomorrow Naomi Holly said coping with her daughter’s harrowing diagnosis was brightened by the Starlight Children’s Foundation which brightens the lives of seriously ill children and their families.
“Nora was a happy, healthy baby, developing well and even reaching some of the milestones early,” she said.
“Then one afternoon she woke from her afternoon nap and she had lost movement in her legs.
“We took her to Midland Hospital where a doctor initially diagnosed her with behavioural problems which we refused to believe so we asked for a second opinion.
“The next doctor took x-rays of her legs and suspected she might have a toddler fracture and put her in a hip to toe cast and sent us home with instructions to give her Nurofen.”
Mrs Holly said two days later, when Nora’s condition worsened, she took her to Princess Margaret Hospital.
“Doctors at PMH looked at the x-rays and immediately cut of her plaster because there was no evidence of a fracture and admitted her for observation,” she said.
“Nora had an MRI the following day where they discovered she had a neuroblastoma the size of a fist in her chest and spine which was crushing her spinal cord.”
Mrs Holly said her daughter, affectionately dubbed the Ginger Ninja, had eight gruelling months of treatment including surgery and chemotherapy to beat the cancer.
“Nora is in remission now and is attending kindy, walking and she loves dancing particularly ballet,” she said.
“You would never know from meeting her what she has been through.
“She still has regular check-ups and touch wood she never relapses.”
Mrs Holly urged the public to support the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
“A few days after Nora was diagnosed our son turned four and we couldn’t leave the hospital so the Starlight Foundation threw us a birthday at the hospital and even bought our son presents because I hadn’t had time to go to the shops,” she said.
“Nora’s eyes lit up whenever the Captains were on ward which helped with the long days sitting confined to a room.
“And when my husband Hannes was with Nora I was able to play with the boys in the Starlight room which was a rare opportunity to have fun together.
“They also granted Nora her wish for a campervan to go camping in.
“We went with some other families who we had gotten to know at the hospital and it is now dubbed the Ginger Ninja Memory Maker.”
Mrs Holly said most visits to the hospital still involved a trip to the Starlight Room to talk with the Captains who have become friends.
“Starlight has also helped me make one of my dreams come true too by handing out the Bravery Medals every September to all the kids on the 3B/1A ward,” she said.
As well as the Starlight Express rooms that provide entertainment and happiness to many, Starlight also offers support to teenage patients and grants life-changing wishes.
This year, the Starlight team is aiming to raise $1.3 million to help bring happiness to sick kids and teenagers.
Every dollar donated between April 29 and May 3 will be doubled by Starlight’s corporate partners.
Donations can be made via starlightday.org.au.