Kind­ness of strangers brings joy in fi­nal days

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SARAH SCULLY

Hor­sham’s Lee Pat­ter­son has a sim­ple but firm rule for her house­hold: No cry­ing.

Con­sid­er­ing her grand­son Brax has an ag­gres­sive ter­mi­nal brain tu­mour, hold­ing back tears is eas­ier said than done.

But Ms Pat­ter­son is de­ter­mined the once vi­brant lit­tle boy who loves to make peo­ple smile will be sur­rounded by noth­ing but hap­pi­ness and pos­i­tiv­ity in his fi­nal days.

Brax, 23 months, was di­ag­nosed with an atyp­i­cal ter­a­toid-rhab­doid tu­mour – or ATRT – three months ago.

Ms Pat­ter­son said Brax’s tu­mour was a par­tic­u­larly ag­gres­sive one.

“It’s ac­tu­ally ge­netic – he was born with it,” she said.

“We didn’t know un­til he fell off a chair and hit his head and they did a CT scan at the hos­pi­tal.

“When they found it, it was the size of a lemon. The sur­geon who per­formed the surgery – God, she was mar­vel­lous – she said if he hadn’t have fallen off the chair he would’ve died within two weeks.”

Brax un­der­went four surg­eries, in­clud­ing one to re­move the tu­mour, along with chemo­ther­apy.

How­ever, an MRI on May 19 de­liv­ered a dev­as­tat­ing blow, re­veal­ing the can­cer had not only grown back, but spread to other parts of the brain.

“They told us there was noth­ing else they could do and he only had weeks to live,” Ms Pat­ter­son said. “So we packed up and came home.” While in the Royal Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Mel­bourne, Ms Pat­ter­son was asked if she would like to make a Starlight Foun­da­tion ‘wish’ on Brax’s be­half.

“The one thing he en­joys most in the world is mak­ing peo­ple happy,” she said.

“I thought, what can we do to make every­body happy? To make him happy? So I thought of a car­ni­val.”

The Starlight Foun­da­tion granted the wish and about 70 peo­ple at­tended Brax’s Car­ni­val at Hor­sham Show­ground on Sun­day.

“An­drea Cross from Hor­sham Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety or­gan­ised ev­ery­thing for us and did an ab­so­lutely mar­vel­lous job,” Ms Pat­ter­son said.

“We had a cha cha there for the big kids, which every­body loved – even my mother went on it. Brax had a ball in the jump­ing cas­tle, play­ing with a bub­ble ma­chine and feed­ing lambs.

“There was also a merry-go-round, a chair-o-plane and lots of food.

“Brax had the best day. We all did. It was so nice just to for­get about ev­ery­thing for a day.”

Ms Pat­ter­son said she could not thank the Starlight Foun­da­tion enough.

“It was truly won­der­ful what they have done for us,” she said.

Ms Pat­ter­son said she was over­whelmed by peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to help her fam­ily.

“Good­start Early Learn­ing Cen­tre has been so good to us, par­tic­u­larly the man­ager, Mel,” she said.

“The crèche is like an ex­tended fam­ily for us and they see us as part of their fam­ily as well.

“We got home from Mel­bourne – when we were told there was noth­ing else they could do – the day be­fore Good­start’s open day.

“No­body knew we were com­ing home and when we turned up, ev­ery­one was so happy to see him. There were lots of tears and cud­dles.

“One gen­tle­man and his fam­ily do­nated $300, just be­cause they could. “Things like that just mean the world to us.”

Fundraiser

Hor­sham dance-fit­ness in­struc­tor Sara Tuo­hey hosted a ‘Zum­bat­hon’ event at Sawyer Park on Sun­day to raise money for Brax and his fam­ily.

Be­fore he was di­ag­nosed with can­cer, Brax at­tended Good­start with Ms Tuo­hey’s daugh­ter.

“I’ve never even met Sara and out of the good­ness of her heart she just felt for us and de­cided to do this for us,” Ms Pat­ter­son said.

“That means so much. The gen­eros­ity and kind­ness of strangers has just blown us away.

“We’ve never been peo­ple who take help from any­one, but we cer­tainly do now, through all this.”

Ms Pat­ter­son said while she and her fam­ily were grate­ful for ev­ery­one’s sup­port, there was lit­tle any­one could do.

“If I could give those who want to help a list of things we need I re­ally would, but there’s noth­ing we need,” she said.

“Brax is in his fi­nal days, but each day he is here is a bless­ing.

“Ev­ery day he wakes up is a good day.”

BEST DAY: Hor­sham’s Lee Pat­ter­son and grand­son Brax Pat­ter­son (El­som) share a mo­ment at a car­ni­val in Brax’s hon­our at Hor­sham Show­ground. Brax, 23 months, has a rare brain tu­mour and his fam­ily is de­ter­mined to en­sure his fi­nal days are filled with...

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