January 7, 2020

‘It felt great to be a child again – and I don’t just mean for Louisa – I mean for all of us.’ – Louisa’s time at Family Camp

‘It felt great to be a child again – and I don’t just mean for Louisa – I mean for all of us.’ – Louisa’s time at Family Camp


In 2017, Louisa was
diagnosed with leukaemia at just 12 years old and needed a stem cell transplant
to survive. Thankfully, she had a match, but the treatment and recovery took
its toll on the whole family. Here, Karine, Louisa’s mum, tells us how much
Family Camp made such a difference.

Transplant
and recovery were incredibly difficult for us all. It was a really tough year. During
her treatment, Louisa spent a year and a half either in bed or in hospital. She
spent six of those months in protective isolation and couldn’t go to public
places or see other children.  

Coming back from
isolation

Louisa
suddenly stopped interacting with children at a stage when her social
development was very important. She missed over a year of schooling too, so
that period of time
was very challenging for her – for us all, in fact. As a family we suffered
from a kind of post traumatic shock. 

At school, strong
friendship bonds are often developed during Year 7 and 8, so after her
treatment it was difficult for Louisa to get those years back. When she
returned to school, many friendship groups had already formed and it had an impact on
Louisa’s confidence and social development.

It
was during a visit from a community nurse that we were shown a leaflet about Family
Camp, and told about the benefits it can offer children with health challenges.

Wonderful to all do something together

It looked perfect so I applied for the family and we secured our places. It was amazing and so wonderful to all do something together. My husband and Louisa’s sister all joined in on all the activities. We really let go and had a fantastic time. It felt great to be a child again – and I don’t just mean for Louisa – I mean for all of us!

There was so much fun
and laughter, and we also met other families, joked with them, chatted and
exchanged numbers. The parents we met had been through similar experiences,
worries and issues that we have, and meeting them made a big difference. 

Louisa made so many
friends who could share similar experiences. Anyone in Louisa’s life will never
fully know what she has been through. They can be supportive, and empathise,
but not truly understand. She found this understanding at camp and she made
strong connections with people – they all keep in touch now.

Never imagined camp to be so good

If I’m honest, I really didn’t want family camp to end. I could have easily stayed another week. We all loved it. The whole family. We dived into everything. It was a much-needed week of fun and laughter. I never imagined camp was ever going to be as good as it was for all of us. It was unforgettable.

If you’re interested in attending Family Camp, visit anthonynolan.org/familycamp



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