Superheroes In Sneakers

13 Feb 2024

Jacob and his Dad Luke

A superhero by definition is someone with extraordinary powers that performs heroic actions. And while we know that not all superheroes wear capes, what you may not know is that this February and March they will be wearing sneakers.

Armed with just an overnight bag, Luke, Breanna, and their son Jacob waved goodbye to Albany and ventured to Perth. After a tummy ache and a trip to the local hospital led them to Perth Children's Hospital for an appointment with a surgeon.

"Little did we know that was the last time Jacob would be in Albany." Luke says

What awaited the family in Perth was four hours in the Emergency Department, followed by a call to 'Oncology' and then began "The waiting game, it was the hardest, the diagnosis, the treatment plan, what is to be expected; this was the longest 3 days of our lives."

The diagnosis, Neuroblastoma and the treatment starts now.

"We had no idea what was going to happen, we'd only packed for a few days in Perth, now they're saying we would be staying a year or 18 months, and that we couldn't be more than an hour away from the hospital."

With help from a hospital social worker, Luke and Jacob would now call RMHC WA their home away from home, while Breanna would make the long journey back to Albany to take care of things there.

"It was a relatively simple, yet extremely emotional decision that I would stay with him in Perth and Breanna would stay and work in Albany to keep our house and we would re-evaluate if things needed to change as we went along."

So, what did life look like for the family over the 376 days Luke and Jacob called RMHC WA their home away from home?

Breanna went back to work and held down the fort in Albany, ensuring that no matter what happened the family would have a roof over their heads and money in the bank.

Jacob courageously underwent treatment. There were good days and bad days, and some days spent only in hospital, with the longest stretch reaching over 50 days.

Luke assumed the role of full-time carer, Dad and mate to Jacob while he battled through treatment. At the same time, he was a friend and confidant to fellow parents also staying at RMHC WA.

Despite how difficult their lives became, they each displayed extraordinary powers and performed heroic actions that helped them face a life challenge that many of us could never comprehend.

By definition, they are superheroes.

Making things a little easier was RMHC WA, who provided their family with the opportunity to focus on each other, on their family.

"Having RMHC WA meant that I could focus primarily on caring for Jacob, Breanna could focus primarily on working and paying the bills, and we would meet somewhere in the middle every day on the phone."

Although the family spent time apart, "Breanna was able to come and go from RMHC WA on weekends and school holidays, which means we squeezed in as much family time as possible."

Sadly, Jacob lost his 12-month battle to cancer in June of last year. For Luke and Breanna "Life is something that you take one day at a time, but we have each other. And having a partner that you are able to share and communicate with helps, and we get each other through. Even during treatment, we had horrible moments, but they were some of the special ones. It's about focusing on the good times."

Now back in Albany, Luke and Breanna, along with 11 of their family and friends have teamed up in memory of Jacob to form Jacob's Memorial Squad. Together they will walk from dusk til dawn at Up All Night to help raise money for RMHC WA.

"Doing it for Jacob this time makes it easier. I can’t give heaps of money, but I can give 42kms. We will forever support RMHC WA. They gave me a full year of 22 hours a day with my son; that is the greatest gift."

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Jacob in the Learning Centre at the Nedlands House