Autumn Appeal: The Murphy Family share their story

The Murphy Family share their Barretstown story to help raise awareness and funds so that Barretstown can bring even more children living with cancer to experience the magic of camp. Please DONATE today.


For Brandon, life was full of joy, not to mention plenty of singing and dancing before he got sick. According to his Mum, Brandon was your typical boy. Always on the go, he enjoyed being outside playing football. And he loved to swim, he was a real water baby. Brandon was also an entertainer. He’d happily put on a little dance and show for you. He enjoyed making people smile. But toward the end of last year, he started to struggle. He was getting frequent headaches, and was vomiting all the time. This went on for months, as his Mum brought him back and forth to doctors. During one of his trips to hospital, Brandon was shaky on his feet. He could barely stand up straight. That’s when the doctor ran a CT scan and Brandon was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Surgery was Brandon’s only option. Three days after he received his diagnosis, he was wheeled into theatre, where surgeons operated and removed his tumour. I’ll let his Mum tell you what happened next…

After the surgery Brandon got posterior fossa syndrome. It’s when speech and movement is affected. He was talking a bit after surgery the first night and then the next day there was nothing. He couldn’t move or talk or do anything. He was bedridden for a couple of weeks, then he was brought to Crumlin to start chemotherapy.”

Brandon-During-Treatment-and-at-Camp in Barretstown
Brandon-During Treatment and at Camp in Barretstown

In the space of four days, Brandon went from being a carefree and fun-loving four-year-old, to being confined to a hospital bed, unable to move or talk. Over the next few weeks, between rounds of chemotherapy, Brandon had to have physiotherapy to help him start moving and talking again. As you can probably guess, it was a horrible and difficult time for Brandon, and his family…

Because Brandon couldn’t talk, he’d just give the thumbs up or thumbs down. That was his communication for awhile – thumbs up or thumbs down. Gradually he started talking again. The first thing he asked was, ‘why couldn’t I talk, why couldn’t I move’?”

Brandon had to cope with all of this while also undergoing intense rehabilitation to learn to walk and talk again. On top of all this, he suffered through extreme mood swings, as a result of his tumour.  He’d go from deliriously happy to unbearably sad in the blink of an eye. Stuck in his hospital bed, unable to talk or move, he felt like he couldn’t do anything anymore. He sank into depression.

While Brandon was in the middle of chemotherapy treatment, his Mum heard about Barretstown. But she was nervous about bringing him to camp… “I didn’t know a lot about Barretstown before we first came. I was a bit hesitant that he wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things because he wasn’t fully mobile.” But that’s the magic of Barretstown. Finding out that you can do more than you think, and learning that anything is possible. I’ll let his Mum tell you about Brandon’s special night…

“The caras put on a show one night, and they asked Brandon ‘what do you want to do’? He said, ‘I want to do a magic trick’. So one of the caras taught him a trick and then we had to dance. When we all got up on the stage, Brandon did his magic trick, and called for help from the audience. Then he did his dance and we helped him do a flip. When he was back at school he was telling his teacher and all his friends what he did at Barretstown. And normally he wouldn’t speak up at all. Barretstown gave him a big boost of confidence.”

Brandon at Camp in Barretstown
Brandon at Camp in Barretstown

For Brandon’s Mum, the real magic happened when they left Barretstown…

“Recently we were at a party, and Brandon got up in the middle of it and started doing karaoke and was singing away in the microphone! Before we came to Barretstown, Brandon would’ve been the kid to sit in the corner and not say anything. His confidence was knocked because of his cancer. He never would’ve gotten up in front of people the way he did in his magic show. But now he’s coming out of his shell and trying new things.”

At Barretstown, we provide a carefree, challenging and healing experience which deals with the emotional effects of a child’s illness – creating a profound and positive impact on their lives – with lasting results.

 Please help more children like Brandon experience the magic of Barretstown by donating today!


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