In 2018, I got very sick. I can still remember how awful it was. I didn’t feel like eating. I didn’t have enough energy to play. I was sleeping all the time. I didn’t know what was happening to me but I knew something was very wrong. My mum and dad took me to see about four different doctors until we got the answer. It wasn’t an answer any of us wanted to hear. I was told I had something called a Wilms Tumour. That’s a tumour on the kidney. It’s another way of saying I had cancer – and it had spread to my lungs and liver too.
It was really hard on my family. My mum and dad were really worried about me. They didn’t say so but I could just tell. My big sister, Amelia, was worried and sad too. She’s my best friend and we share a room at home. But for a whole year I was in and out of hospital, it felt like I was there all the time, and I know she really missed me.Donate
``The first thing when you get a diagnosis is that your life collapses. You don’t expect it.” – Kitty’s Mum, Lucy
We first visited Barretstown for their Big Picnic open day in the summer. The whole family went. When we drove through the gates my mum and dad both started to cry. They could already tell it was a special place.
The next November, we all went to a family camp and had an amazing time! We laughed a lot. That weekend gave us a real break from hospital visits and chemotherapy. Barretstown brings kids and families back together again. I know it made a huge difference to all of us. Me and Amelia left that camp desperate to go back again. Last spring, we went to a siblings camp without mum and dad and then, in the summer, I came to camp on my own.
“Kitty had been surrounded by adults for six months – her parents, the medical team, the nurses, doctors, care team. We needed to allow her to be in the company of children again.” – Lucy
I loved doing activities like horse riding and arts and crafts. After being stuck in a hospital room for so long, it was magic to be able to do things again. You get to meet and talk to other kids who have been through the same things as you and who understand what it’s like to be so sick for so long.
It was a real break for my mum and dad too. They could relax while I was at Barretstown because they knew that its amazing Med Shed would make sure I got whatever care I needed, and just as good as I was getting in hospital.
I want to give:
The Burke Family
“I’ve finished my treatment now and I’m happy to say the cancer is gone but I still have to live with the effects of all the chemo and operations. I know there are a lot more kids just like me who are still going through their treatment, still fighting, kids who really need to come to Barretstown.” – Kitty.
“Kitty has had the opportunity to be enriched again with people of her own age. To really benefit from not taking life too seriously, having some good old-fashioned fun and silliness. Things were very serious in her life during the time of her treatment, and Barretstown was there to help enrich her and give Kitty her childhood back.” – Kitty’s mum, Lucy.
The Impact of Your Donation
Joy & Magic
Our arts and crafts team are always on hand with paint, facepaint, crayons, craft paper, bracelet beads, feathers and everything you can imagine, to bring out the creative side in each child!
All of our camps and programmes are designed to respond directly to the needs of a child living with a serious illness – both clinical and psychological. Our unique model of challenge, discovery, reflection and success is recognised by paediatricians and psychologists all over the world as an important and necessary component of a child’s treatment.
The loss of control that many children and their families experience as a result of a serious illness can gradually erode confidence, diminish self-esteem, body image and coping skills. We aim to give this back by empowering and encouraging each individual to step out of their comfort zone and begin to re-build their confidence, trust and self-esteem and discover something new about themselves and their ability.
We believe that fun should be an integral part of what we do. Fun and laughter are key ingredients in improving the lives of those affected by serious illness.
Our outreach programme brings the playful spirit of Barretstown beyond the gates of our beautiful castle into hospitals and communities all over the country.