A Jordan Springs family’s world was turned upside down after an MRI scan saw their young son, Cameron, urgently admitted to Westmead Children’s Hospital.
Dean Calman, Cameron’s father, said doctors described what they saw as “a very large blockage,” a euphemism for a brain tumour.
The Children’s Hospital became Cameron’s home for the next four months.
“Once he woke up from surgery, it became apparent that he had what they call Posterior Fossa Syndrome,” Mr Calman said.
“He wasn’t speaking, he wasn’t eating, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t move.”
A second operation to install a shunt to help drain the build-up of fluid in his brain saw his recovery vastly improve.
His mother, Melissa Calman, said that every little improvement was a cause for celebration.
“Him being able to poke his tongue out was an awesome day, it sounds crazy now, but at the time it was amazing,” she smiled.
In what Cameron’s parents describe as a “nightmare”, there was a glimmer of joy that helped their sons – the Starlight Express Room.
“The Captains in the Starlight Room are absolutely brilliant. It’s unbelievable what they’re dealing with every day seeing sick kids all the time, but they are always happy and amazing,” Ms Calman said.
Mr Calman said the room and the Starlight Captains provided respite for parents as well as an escape for children.
“One of the first times we saw Cameron really laugh since the surgery was when he visited the room,” he said.
Cameron’s 10-year-old brother Ben, praised for his strength and unconditional love throughout the journey, was able to enjoy the room while going through some of the most traumatic days of his life.
“The Starlight Room was really great for him as well, especially when Cameron couldn’t leave his room, and we needed to be with him,” Mr Calman said.
“It gave him somewhere to be.”
This week, Cameron visited school again for the first time since his operation, and while there are still lingering health concerns, he is full of laughter and love.
He has a long journey still ahead of him, but it appears to be a positive road.
Tomorrow (Saturday, May 6) he is celebrating his seventh birthday.
Today (Friday, May 5) is Starlight Day, where the Starlight Foundation is raising funds for seriously ill children.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer, visit www.starlight.org.au.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.