Nathan and his wife Naomi had a dream of raising their three kids while travelling around Australia and prior to COVID, bought and moved into a bus which they renovated into a motorhome. Unfortunately, COVID got in the way of travelling. Plans changed after Nathan landed a dream job in the media and news industry, so he packed up his family and moved them from the Central Coast to Lismore.
Soon after, Nathan and his family became homeless due to losing their belongings, their farm and animals, in the terrible Lismore floods. Nathan and Naomi decided it would be best for her and the kids to move back down to the Central Coast where they had family support.
Nathan’s six-year-old son, Ollie, is a kind-hearted little boy who loves adventure and the outdoors and finds comfort in drawing and painting. After noticing a few hearing issues in his right ear, Naomi took Ollie to the doctors, where they were unable to find anything other than fluid build-up. When Ollie presented with more issues, doctors booked him into an Ear Nose and Throat specialist, to have gromets put in, to alleviate the fluid build-up issues.
While Naomi was driving up from the Central Coast to Lismore to see Nathan, she became concerned when Ollie’s right eye turned lazy, and he had started complaining about being dizzy, seeing double and experiencing equilibrium issues. Naomi’s gut instinct kept telling her something was wrong and after getting a referral for the hospital, an MRI scan showed there was a tumour behind Ollie’s right ear. The family were hit with the devastating news that Ollie had brain cancer. Two days after the tumour was found, Nathan and Ollie were flown from Lismore to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and have been there ever since.
Nathan recalls the moment he was told about his son, Ollie’s diagnosis.
“Finding out Ollie has a brain tumour was devastating. Obviously, you can’t plan for this. When you think cancer, you think it’s life altering, and life changing and, in that instant, my son’s life and his mortality is being brought into question.”
“I just started having those flashes in my brain of how life was about to change, and we had no idea what was to come. A short life and death was all I could see in Oliver’s near future. It was a very intense time for the family.”
Since his diagnosis in September 2022, Ollie has undergone regular chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Westmead. As the hospital is so far from home, Nathan has left his full-time job permanently to be able to stay in Sydney with his family.
“We’ve had no income since Oliver’s diagnosis, becoming permanent carers to better juggle Oliver’s hospital visits. Receiving Redkite’s vouchers for petrol and groceries has been a lifesaver.”
“Redkite social workers were very supportive and very lovely with Ollie. They gave him his little beads and he absolutely loves putting them on. It was an ice breaker for him he got a little teddy bear for his diagnosis and a plane, because he went on a plane trip, and it was just really cute. It’s lovely for him to sit with the Redkite counsellor in the ward and connect every now and again.”
The vouchers and beads at Westmead are organised by Redkite’s Family Wellbeing Coordinator, Audrey, who supports families in the ward.
“Redkite’s support has been lifesaving. It’s been overwhelming in a way that no-one who hasn’t been through it can comprehend. The little things, the day-to-day things that you don’t have to worry about.”
Finding purpose after Ollie’s diagnosis
Nathan is passionate about giving back and helping families like his. Coming this October, Redkite is running a new challenge called ‘You Little Ripper’. The challenge, which Nathan is taking part in, involves waxing part (or all) of your body to raise vital funds for Redkite to continue to provide the vital support families, like Nathan’s, need most while facing childhood cancer.
If you’d like to join Nathan in the challenge, or dare your family and friends to get involved, you can find out more about ‘You Little Ripper’ in the links below.