|MISSION 360 - BLACKWATER / ARCHERFIELD|
EMERALD ANGEL TO REUNITE BLACKWATER CHILDREN WITH PARENTS AND SICK SISTER IN BRISBANE
On Saturday 21st May three very excited Blackwater children were reunited with their mother, father and two-year-old sister thanks to ‘angels’.
In April 2005, two and a half year old Taylah Martin, together with her mother Kim, were flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital where Taylah was diagnosed with a rare and potentially life-threatening form of childhood cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma. [Rhabdomyosarcoma is a soft tissue malignant tumour, which occurs in just 3.5% of cases of cancer among children 0-14 years.]
Whilst Kim and Taylah were flying to Brisbane, Taylah’s father, Michael, made the journey by road so they could face together whatever was wrong with their little girl.
It’s at times like this that families are so important to provide the love and support so essential to pull them through. This is where Kim’s mother stepped in at home and took over the care of Taylah’s sister Tanika  and brothers Nathan , Bradley  and Nicholas [12 months].
Naturally, being so close they have all been missing each other, placing additional stress on this very special family.
But now, thanks to Angel Flight some of the stress was relieved for a while when Angel Flight pilots flew the children to Brisbane where they spent a few days with Taylah before returning home by road with their father. Mum stayed with Taylah in Brisbane for the duration of Taylah’s treatment.
For parents Kim and Michael, the past few weeks have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, with first the diagnosis and then the separation.
“It was a real shock when we found out what was wrong with Taylah,” Kim said.
“The first indication we had that anything was wrong was when I noticed that Taylah’s stomach was getting hard. At first we thought it was constipation but after just a week the doctor became concerned and referred us to Blackwater and the Rockhampton Hospitals. From there we were sent on to Brisbane where we were told that she had a malignant tumour in her stomach that required immediate treatment with chemotherapy and later she will have to undergo surgery. This was the last thing we thought would happen and it’s made it really difficult being separated from the older children.”
Kim said that Taylah is responding well to the treatment and she may be able to return to Rockhampton in the not too distant future.
A very close family, Kim said that she misses home terribly and keeps saying she wants to go home.
“She’s been a real little champion, although the chemotherapy can be a bit rough on her when it makes her sick, and she just wants to be with the rest of the family and her pets,” Kim says.
“We have some dogs and chickens, but her favourite is a lorikeet which was named Crawly by the kids. But the older children have sent her photos of themselves and all the pets and she looks at them every day and holds them, I could hardly wait to see her face when they all arrived on Saturday. There was lots of tears but also lots of joy”
As for Tanika, Nathan and Bradley [Nicholas arrived in Brisbane a week prior] their excitement began when they met the Emerald based Angel Flight Pilot, Jon Kirk and his helper John Simpson from Blackwater who flew them to Brisbane in a 6 seater, twin-engine Piper Aztec, for not only were they together again as a family, but this was the children’s first flight.
“I know they were very excited about travelling with Angel Flight, on top of which they got a day off school.” Kim said with a laugh.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that this was happening. Angel Flight even sent Taylah a special Angel Flight bear and told us that not only were they flying the children to Brisbane, but what they call an Earth Angel will drive the children from Archerfield to the Hospital. They are absolutely brilliant!”
It seems they won’t be the only ones who will experience the excitement of flying. Even though he spends many hours in the air as a professional charter pilot with Horizon Airways, Angel Flight Pilot Jon Kirk hasn’t lost any of his passion for flying which started when he was a little boy playing with toy planes. And as a father of three young sons who are starting to share their father’s love for the air, he was the perfect ‘angel’ to share this part of the Martin’s journey.
1 by Jon Kirk