Brandon’s family had been put through all that heartache and struggle and what happened after his surgery was yet another test for Brandon. In just four short days, Brandon went from being a carefree and fun-loving four-year-old, to being confined to a hospital bed, unable to move or talk.
He was too young to understand what was happening to him. His doctors had to insert a special device called a PEG tube into his stomach so he could eat. And he was fitted with a Hickman‘Freddie’ line through which he received chemotherapy treatment. Brandon had to cope with all of this while also undergoing intense rehabilitation to learn to walk and talk again. On top of all this, he suffered through extreme mood swings, as a result of his tumour.
He’d go from deliriously happy to unbearably sad in the blink of an eye. Stuck in his hospital bed, unable to talk or move, he felt like he couldn’t do anything anymore. He sank into depression. While Brandon was in the middle of chemotherapy treatment, his Mum heard about Barretstown. But she was nervous about bringing him to camp…
After the surgery Brandon got posterior fossa syndrome. It’s when speech and movement is affected. He was talking a bit after surgery the first night and then the next day there was nothing. He couldn’t move or talk or do anything. He was bedridden for a couple of weeks, then he was brought to Crumlin to start chemotherapy.”
“I didn’t know a lot about Barretstown before we first came. I was a bit hesitant that he wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things because he wasn’t fully mobile.” One of the most magically and remarkable experiences happened when the caras put on a show one night. “They asked Brandon ‘what do you want to do’? He said, ‘I want to do a magic trick’. So one of the caras taught him a trick and then we had to dance. When we all got up on the stage, Brandon did his magic trick, and called for help from the audience. Then he did his dance and we helped him do a flip.”
“When he was back at school he was telling his teacher and all his friends what he did at Barretstown. And normally he wouldn’t speak up at all. Barretstown gave him a big boost of confidence. In that one night in Barretstown, he charmed and entertained an audience full of children.
He made them smile. It was pure magic.”
Brandon realised he didn’t have to be that sick child lying in a hospital bed, waiting to get better, and waiting to get back to being a regular child again. That’s because at Barretstown, every activity in camp centers around what a child is able to do. So when a child succeeds in overcoming a challenge (and they always do!) they start to take on bigger challenges. With each success, a child slowly builds up their confidence. And the more confident a child feels, the more in control they feel. That’s when they start believing in themselves again.