|MISSION 441 - PORT MACQUARIE/SYDNEY - BANKSTOWN/KEMPSEY|
Request (3rd & 4th Angel Flights).
Until 22nd March of this year we were just like any other family. Life was busy, as anyone with four active children and an assortment of pets to care for would know.
We had settled into our new home in Yarrahapinni after making the move two years before to follow a dream to return to the place where I had fond memories of family holidays as a child. The Macksville area is also the family home of my husband Matt and he too was happy to return to be near his parents and great grandmother Molly Summerville who have lived around here all their lives.
But life was about to change when, one morning in mid-March, our youngest child Cody  woke up with a high temperature and complaining about having a stomach ache. At first we thought it may have been his appendix but after the doctor ruled that out we were sent to Coffs Harbour Hospital, where numerous tests were carried out to find out what was wrong. Eventually one of the blood tests revealed that his haemoglobin [iron] levels were not normal so a full blood count was carried out. The result was that on 22nd March we learned that our little boy had leukaemia and within 3 hours we were on an air ambulance on our way to Sydney.
Our whole world seemed to fall apart; our way of life was turned upside down and inside out. Whilst our attention obviously had to focus on Cody, we also had to make sure our other children, Michael , Brett , and Renee  and the family pets were cared for.
For the next three months we lived in Ronald McDonald House in Sydney to be near Cody whilst he received intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at The Children’s Hospital in Randwick. For most of that time Brett and Renee were with us attending the hospital school whilst little Michael stayed with Matt’s parents back in Macksville.
Being away from home for such a long period of time wasn’t easy on any of us and when we got the opportunity to come home for a couple of weeks following the first two months of treatment we jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, Cody’s temperature went up a few days after we arrived home and we had to rush him back to Coffs Harbour and then to Sydney. A little while later we made another trip home and it happened again.
The routine now is for Cody to regularly spend a week in the Children’s Hospital in Sydney having chemotherapy followed by a week at home. So, in order to give our other children as normal a life as possible during this time, Matt has taken time off work as a truck driver to take Cody to and from hospital and to care for him during his treatment, whilst I look after our home and the rest of our family.
However the six-hour road journey can be very tiring and difficult for Cody, on top of which if his temperature suddenly goes up during the journey it is essential that he’s taken immediately to the nearest hospital as it could be life-threatening.
Now this is where Cody’s ‘Angels’ come on the scene.
Angel Flight has been the most wonderful organisation! They have been providing us with air travel from Kempsey to Bankstown then an 'Earth Angel' drives us from Bankstown Airport to the hospital and back again at the end of the week at no cost to us. This saves Matt a 6-hour drive with the flight only taking just over an hour!
The most important part of this, I have found, is the wonderful way in which they do it. We are sent photos of the pilot and Earth Angel before each flight and then we receive photos of Cody and Matt taken by these 'Angels' during the flight. After Cody's second flight he discovered he left his favourite puppy dog toy, Lucy, on the plane. We were amazed and delighted a few days later to receive not only Lucy in the mail but a book of photos of Cody during the flights with captions and dates on each one. It was such a thoughtful gesture and Cody loved it and was especially pleased to get his toy back, which was named after a pet dog we used to have.
Angel Flight accommodates us in whatever way they can and the service they provide is second to none. They are the friendliest most helpful people and I couldn't speak highly enough of them. We are made to feel special and Cody is treated as the most precious cargo ever and Matt loves it because he doesn’t have to make the long drive. All the worry associated with the journey has been taken from us.
I feel privileged that Angel Flight has come to Kempsey for us. This is an organisation that everyone should be proud to have in Australia. You have no idea how special they are until you need them yourself, then you realise why they are called "Angel Flight".
Cody is now at home for a week and I’m pleased to say that the last time he was home it was the first week without him having a temperature.
Written by Jo Harris
See also Cody's website: www.forcody.piczo.com
about a previous mission for Cody (M431)
Angel flight 1 by QANTASLINK
Due to poor weather conditions, the scheduled pilot had to cancel. A commercial flight with QANTASLINK was fully sponsored by Angel Flight.
Angel flight 2 by Gary Weeks
Comment by Gary
"Once again it was a good day for flying as usual. On departure out towards Richmond we climbed up through a bit of cloud and found a beautiful smooth ride at 9000’ northbound. We even managed to find about 5kts of tailwind.
Matt and Cody were both very keen to get home so the flight was rescheduled forward about one hour. As I expected, my passengers were already at Bankstown when I arrived but had not been waiting all that long. We were all loaded up and taxying at Bankstown by a little before 1215 but had to patiently await an airways clearance which meant we didn’t get airborne until 1225.
Cody was a little unsettled and probably tired after his last round of treatment - as the photos show as soon as we were airborne he fell asleep and slept all the way through to Kempsey."