It was smiles all round when 12-year-old Caleb Scott and his mum Suzanne Turpie met with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse representatives in Port Macquarie.
It comes after Charity Cure My Brain reached out to the family, and as a result, surgeon Sydney Ch’ng from Chris O'Brien Lifehouse integrated cancer hospital returned the youngster’s smile.
The removal of a brain tumour in 2015 had resulted in paralysis on the right hand side of Caleb’s face but the 2018 surgery gave Caleb back his grin.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse director and patient advocate Gail O’Brien, the wife of the late Professor Chris O’Brien, said it was absolutely wonderful to see Caleb smile.
“He’s a changed boy,” she said.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse director of head and neck surgery Clinical Associate Professor Carsten Palme said Caleb had benefited from the sort of high-level multidisciplinary care the cancer hospital offered to patients in Sydney on a daily basis.
The fact they’ve been able to give Caleb his smile back, I’m not even sure words come into it. It’s life changing - it’s a chance of normality.Suzanne Turpie
Caleb’s mum Suzanne Turpie said Caleb was now full of confidence.
“To look at Caleb now, I think to most people he’s just another 12-year-old kid,” she said.
“The fact they’ve been able to give Caleb his smile back, I’m not even sure words come into it. It’s life changing - it’s a chance of normality.”
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, which continues to foster links with the medical community here, staged a dinner for GPs and health sector representatives during the Port Macquarie visit.
Mrs O’Brien said she felt the Sydney cancer hospital was going into a new era as so many patients came to the centre from regional areas.
Associate Professor Palme said his vision had been to provide the sort of state of the art multidisciplinary care for complex medical problems available in the major cities to the regions.
“A lot of our patients do come from the Mid-North Coast and one of the universal problems is having to travel, often for short appointments,” he said.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse holds a monthly head and neck clinic in Port Macquarie.
“If the volume goes up, I can’t see why we can’t ramp that up to fortnightly or even weekly and Lifehouse would resource that,” Associate Professor Palme said.
Patients would still need to travel for surgery but other treatment and aftercare could all happen here.
“The key thing I want people to realise is the only way it’s going to work is if there is a demonstrated need and interest from the community, and importantly, that we continue to work very closely with the local health care infrastructure,” he said.
Mrs O’Brien said cancer was such a frightening diagnosis.
“Our model of care is so beautiful that it does change people’s lives,” she said.
“Even though it’s such a hard journey, we support patients and try to help them through this rocky road, if you like.”
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