For a child with a terminal illness or major disability, every day is a round of personal invasions. Their life is in the hands of medical professionals, family members and care givers. Independence is just a dream while others are constantly monitoring what they eat, what medicines they take and what their body is doing. It’s likely they have plenty of time to dream and wish and hope. But it’s also likely that their financial circumstances and extreme care requirement will always stand in the way of making the dreams come true.
The children that come to Koru Care asking for help have been betrayed by their bodies. In some cases they have cancer, kidney disease or heart problems, in other cases they’ve lost the use of limbs or have serious congenital abnormalities. But they still have the capacity to smile, laugh and create good memories; they just need someone to wave a magic wand.
Just knowing that something wonderful is going to happen is enough to make a difference. Anticipation is the beginning of the Koru Care dream delivery treatment. Suddenly, a child that couldn’t see past the daily routine of illness or disability can see all the way to Fiji or Florida. Often their health will improve, even if the long term forecast isn’t good. The mind is a powerful thing, when it can glimpse light at the end of the tunnel.
These are some stories from our kids who have enjoyed the brief break on one of our Koru Care trips from that daily circumstance and who wanted to share their fun with you.
Greg, California 2012
Last year I was lucky and had the chance to go to America on a trip with Koru Care. I had an amazing time because you get to go to all different places like Universal Studios, Disneyland, and lots of different places. I enjoyed the theme parks the most because I love the scary rides. The thing I really liked was being able to do it with other kids who are all like me with heart conditions and other problems. I normally can’t go on normal camps like other kids so it was fantastic that I could go on something like this. When I have more surgery this year so I will be able to look back on the good times I had, and recovery might not be so bad.
Greg, 12 years old, from Auckland
Imogen, California 2012
When I was told that I was going on the 2012 Koru Care trip, I had just got home from hospital. I was excited and happy, but I was nervous too – who would my buddy be, would I like being away from home, would I make friends. But as soon as we got to the airport I knew I had nothing to worry about. Everyone was so nice and I didn’t have to worry about being singled out because I wasn’t the only one with a medical condition. It also put my condition into perspective. Once we got to California, everyone was normal and carefree – and I loved it. We were all friends by the end.
Koru Care definitely changed my life. I got to experience stuff I never would have been able to do otherwise, and I got to do it with my friends. I was 10 times happier when I got back home than before I went, because I realized that it wasn’t just me. I was talking to a friend I made on the trip the other day and we both agreed it was amazing and we will never forget it. We’d love to do it again, but now it’s time for other kids to get a chance! Koru Care has been a big part of my life and I’ll be forever grateful to them for giving me such a great opportunity.
Imogen, 12 years old from Wellington
Ryan Godfrey, California 2007
My name is Ryan. In 2002 when I was 4 I was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic disorder called Fanconi Anemia. My bone marrow would stop producing red and white blood cells and platelets. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant. In 2005 I received a bone marrow transplant from my younger brother Tyler, who was 5 at the time. My transplant went fairly well but I wasn’t allowed out of my hospital room for one month.
In Jan 2006 I was asked if I would like to go to Disneyland with Koru care, well of course I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. I knew it was down to my parents to agree but who could refuse my pleading face. The first thing I had to do was tell my older sister because that’s what all loving brothers would do. I went on the internet and had a look at the Disneyland website, and it looked so cool. This would have to be the best day of my life.
One day mum noticed a nasty bruise on my neck and thought that it didn’t look right. I went into hospital and had urgent bloods done. After a week of tests and trialing different things it was confirmed I had relapsed and I would need a second bone marrow transplant. My mum broke the news to me about the transplant and then told me I would not be able to go to Disneyland. I was sad and angry, I cried and cried. This was so unfair, I hated hospitals and hated being sick.
In 2006, now aged eight, I went back into hospital for a second bone marrow transplant. While in hospital Mum got a call from Tracey at Koru Care and she said that when I was better there would be a seat waiting for me on the next available trip. This was the best phone call ever. I was still going to Disneyland some day. Unfortunately the transplant this time was nasty. I was very sick and spent 5 months in hospital. When it was really bad I would think of Disneyland and what it would be like.
Over the next 10 months I was in and out of hospital slowly getting better, then one day out of the blue my parents told me I was going to Disneyland. I was finally going, my dream was coming true. Going to Disneyland with Koru care was the best trip ever, the companions were so cool and fun. I made new friends, I was outside, and I was laughing and having fun. We had 15 fun filled days of fun parks, rides, shows, shopping, eating and late nights. The fun was endless. Koru Care sure knows how to make kids smile. I felt like I could be a kid again. Being sick made me quiet and shy but going on this trip bought the old me back. I was not quiet for very long.
I would like to thank Koru Care for bringing back joy and laughter in my life. I will never forget the trip and what it did for me. It brought me back out of my shell made me more confident and outgoing, just like the old me before I got sick. What Koru Care does for kids is nothing short of amazing. You only need to look at photos and see the smiles or talk to a child who has been away with Koru Care and watch their face break into the biggest smile ever.
This was a dream come true for me and I cannot thank Koru Care enough.
Siobhan was lucky last year (2010) and was a member of the group who went to the Gold Coast. She had a fantastic time and was absolutely glowing as she told me of the adventure she had had.
Siobhan relapsed less than 1 month later and has since been battling again for her life through stem cell transplant and aggressive chemotherapy. She is a wonderful kid with an exceptional family. This family has traveled this cancer journey before but I believe that having such an awesome opportunity prior to her relapse has fortified her during the battle she now faces. Siobhan has had loads of complications and her road to recovery has been long and tricky… She’s still in Auckland where she has been for a few months and still has weeks ahead of her. I am assured that she will recover.
The children you work with never know what is around the corner as far as their health is concerned. You guys make such a huge difference to bring some pure joy and excitement into their lives. I want to thank you on behalf of Siobhan’s family as well as all families you work with. Thanks!
Shannyn – Family Support Co-oridinator, Child Cancer.
Hannah, California 2008
The two weeks that I spent with all the other children and caregivers in California was truly the best two weeks of my life. Being on the trip really changed my life for the better and I would like to thank everyone who helped make my dreams come true.
Liam, Gold Coast 2006
Thank you for giving Liam an amazing trip to Australia. It was a wonderful experience that he will never forget. He has been “ill” for 3 ½ years and the constant testing, medicines and his susceptibility to winter colds does get a bit much for him at times. So this was a wonderful relief after winter. As a solo mother to two other children as well and a full time university student the break for me was much appreciated. Even though I did stress a bit with letting go, I knew he was in safe hands.
Thank you again.
Janet, mother of Liam.