7 September 2017, Sofitel, Melbourne, Australia
Redkite is a charity that raises money for families who have a child who has received a cancer diagnosis. The corporate quiz is their big fundraiser. Simone is the mother of Hayden. Video of speech embedded above.
Good evening Everyone,
My name is Simone Clements and I have been invited to talk to you tonight because our family has been a recipient of RedKite’s compassion, kindness and financial assistance.
You may recognise us from TV, New Idea magazine or advertising material but more recently from the National news and Newspapers as we are the family that had both of our cars stolen out of our driveway on a day we needed to get to the Royal Children’s Hospital for an MRI for our son.
You see we have a little boy Hayden he is 6 years old and he was diagnosed with and inoperable, incurable brain tumour nearly two years ago and this is our story......
A few weeks after the twins 5th birthday Hayden began to complain that he couldn’t use his left hand and arm whilst dressing, immediately we sensed that something neurological was going on but we still had hope that maybe it was an injury.
We didn’t want to panic so we took him the Dr but when they suggested we take him to the Royal Children’s Hospital immediately, we knew it was serious and were overwhelmed with emotion.
As we raced him into the Royal Children’s hospital we began discussing the worst case scenario and preparing ourselves for what was to come. Upon arriving at the hospital he was rushed into a CT scan revealing a 4cm tumour in his brain stem. I remember feeling devastated, sick and barely able to breathe. I tried to be brave and I held it together in front of Hayden but eventually I was overcome with grief and shock and I had to leave the room. My knees went weak and I remember sobbing on the emergency department floor.
Nothing could take away my pain, it hurt so much. I was grieving for the life that I had envisaged for our son and fearing the unknown. Eventually, I pulled myself together and realised that all these feelings had to drive me to do whatever it was going to take to get our son through this journey. That became our family mantra, “Whatever it takes...”
I stand here tonight so very proud of our family and the resilience we have shown bravely fighting this beast we call cancer. We took our inspiration from Hayden he is a hero, a little champion. He endured 36 rounds of chemo in 12 months, lost all mobility on his left side, put up with painful procedures, surgeries, MRI’s, x-rays, ultrasounds, examinations, countless blood tests, in and out of hospital for two years, powered through his rehab sessions even when he felt like giving up or it was too hard, he just smiled and got on with it impressing everyone with his attitude and charm.
If you would like to watch his brave fight you can watch it on youtube called Hayden’s Journey. It’s a 30 minute glimpse into the 2 year struggle for a child diagnosed with a brain tumour.
I don’t know how he did what he did and I don’t know how we have survived the past 2 years but one thing I do know, we couldn’t have done it without our community, the kindness of strangers and the support that RedKite provided our family.
Cancer affects every aspect of your family’s life physically, emotionally, financially and psychologically. RedKite provided our family with much needed resources to manage our grief, counselling for our well being and made sure we didn’t have the extra stress of finding funds to pay bills, petrol, groceries and ongoing medical costs.
Funds raised for RedKite on nights like tonight for families like ours have contributed towards our bills, school fees, medications, rehabilitation equipment, mobility aids, safety items in our house, Physio, OT , Dr and Therapy costs, psychologists, house cleaning and babysitters for our other children just to name a few.
The contributions of individuals and companies are greatly appreciated by families like ours. I just can not begin to express our gratitude for all that RedKite have done for our family during such a difficult time.
One night last week Hayden’s twin sister was snuggling a bunny that was given to her she calls it her worry bunny and she told me it wasn’t working. I said to her sometimes you need to tell grown ups your worries and that helps too. She took a breath and said softly, “I need to tell you I have a worry and it’s about Hayden. I braced myself and then she said it, ‘I’m worried that Hayden going to die from his brain tumour.” My heart sank and I responded with, ‘I know sweetheart this is my worry too, but the doctors are doing everything they can to help him and you know what, every day that we have him in our lives we need to tell him we love him and make the most of our time together.’ Young children shouldn’t have such worries weighing heavily on their minds.
Another day that nearly broke me was when I was walking with Hayden in the wheelchair to get some fresh air he was so sick this day after chemo and he looked up at me and asked, ‘Mummy am I going to heaven?’ I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “Not today sweetheart hopefully not anytime soon.’
So as you can see dealing with childhood cancer these past two years has been pretty traumatic but knowing we had the support of people like you, companies, businesses and RedKite definitely relieved the pressure and we didn’t feel so alone. The financial aid that you generate goes a long way in helping families like ours and critically ill children.
We will never forget your kindness, generosity, well wishes and support.
From the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of families dealing with Childhood Cancer.