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Real Stories

Pat and Archer: “I felt like I needed to be the strong one in the family.”

“As a dad I did feel I needed to access the counselling services. I remember talking to the counsellors and feeling like somebody, feeling valuable.”

After the shock of five-year-old Archer (Archie) being diagnosed with leukaemia, it led to the most painful, helpless, scary, and stressful 12 months of the family’s life, with Archie undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and numerous other tests and procedures.

Archie’s father Pat recalls the day his family’s life was turned. “My initial reaction was confusion followed by shock. The hospital staff spoke to us, but I was dumbfounded and in my state of shock unable to concentrate on what they were saying. My ears were ringing. All I could do was cuddle my wife and cry.

Since being diagnosed with leukaemia last year, we have certainly felt like we have been on a roller coaster. Archie’s suffered the side effects of the steroids which included leg and back pain, fits of rage, being ravishingly hungry, sleeplessness and up all night and then bedridden as a result of not being well.”

“As a dad I did feel I needed to access the counselling services. I remember talking to the counsellors and feeling like somebody, feeling valuable. I do think personal and couples counselling is required, to ensure individually and together, a family can cope and manage the stressful situation ahead of them.”

Unfortunately, during his treatment, Archie mentioned he couldn’t see out of his left eye and after a series of tests, Pat learned that Archie’s had a bleed behind the eye as a result of the leukaemia. He would need surgery to stop the bleed and improve his sight. Pat and his wife Jodie decided to wait until after Archie’s treatment because his body was going through so much with treatment.

The Stokes family was introduced to Redkite when they were given the Red Bag, which they still have packed and ready to go to this day. Redkite offered Pat counselling and it was the emotional support he didn’t know he needed.

“I was so busy, running a business and having kids at home everything just starts to merge. I did access services early with counselling over the phone. I’m grateful for Redkite because there was someone there listening when I needed to talk to someone, somebody outside of the family situation, so I felt like I wasn’t burdening them, especially my wife and my sister, with my thoughts and feelings, or what I was going through. It is always hard to open up and be vulnerable to friends and family.

“I felt I needed to be the strong one in the family. I wanted to make sure that they weren’t worried or upset or feeling as if there was a problem. I didn’t want to show them signs of being weak or upset. It was important to me to keep a bold face in front of the family and the kids.”

Pat, Jodie, and Archie’s teachers are planning for his return to school so he can continue his education during treatment.

“The toughness, resilience and optimism Archie’s has shown has been astounding. He missed out on starting prep at school, so he is super excited. We are apprehensive and I have to admit I want to shadow him there. My hope is that we make it through this period and out the other side happy and all healthy.”

Redkite’s social workers provide a safe space for parents like Pat to express their feelings, manage strong emotions, and cope with the impact cancer has on family and relationships.

Adult and child counselling is free, unlimited and available for anyone affected by a child’s diagnosis.

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