Kindness of strangers brings joy in final days
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.”
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...