Recently, Palliative Care SA kindly asked us to share our story in their latest newsletter. Here is the piece I shared with them.
All I ever wanted was to be a Mum, on the 29th December 2002, my wish came true.
Hunter Alfred Stratton was born a beautiful healthy 7.6 lb baby boy.
We enjoyed 8 weeks of newborn baby bliss, thinking I was so clever making this beautiful little thing, I couldn’t wait to take him out and show him off to the world.
While out walking I noticed strange noises and Hunter looking very odd. After multiple Doctor and hospital visits, we were told Hunter had Benign Infantile Seizures.
Heartbroken and scared, we were reassured Hunter would grow out of his seizures by two and would need mild epileptic medication to keep his seizures under control until then.
Home we went with our eight-week-old baby boy, ready to face a new journey, but terrified. Little did we know what more was to come.
Hunter’s seizures increased and the hospital in Christchurch New Zealand was not able to find out what, why, or how. We spent two weeks, trialing and testing, with his condition worsening rapidly and a nursing error of an overdose given when we decided to return home to Adelaide and the care of the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital.
The next six months were spent with further testing, with no clear answers why and Hunter’s seizures were increasing to over one hundred some days.
We slowly learned this was our new normal and had to navigate the journey ahead caring for our severely disabled, complex needs boy.
Living as best life as possible with Hunter, going away on holidays, going to school, playing with his two younger brothers at age 10 his body really started to weaken further.
Hunter’s health needs became more complex and I felt I was losing the battle trying to care for him. I reached out to the Paediatric Palliative care team at the hospital.
Straight away their care, knowledge, and understanding was amazing, and exactly what we needed for the next stage of Hunter’s journey.
Two years with the Palliative Care service was the start of the hardest years of our lives. We cared for Hunter with their guidance until the time came that we had to finally say goodbye to our beautiful boy at nearly 12 years old.
A time that broke our hearts forever and took a long time to find our new normal. To realise we have to do something in Hunter’s honour and help others going through the worst thing a parent should ever have to endure.
The HAS (Hunter Alfred Stratton) Foundation was born. We knew we understood the little things families need. We knew the Paediatric Palliative care team did an incredible job, but we wanted to help support them in new ways. We raised over $95,000 in our first year thanks to so many generous kind-hearted people. We decided that care packs when families are first referred to Palliative Care would be a good idea, as it is the most heart-wrenching thing to go through and we wanted to show we are here for families and we understand and care.
We have given out around 25 packs valued at over $400 with items for every family member, games, toys, practical items and pamper packs plus vouchers for food, movies, Netflix, Adelaide Zoo, restaurants, and more.
We can not change or fix these families journeys ahead but our aim is to help families create memories together, make their journey that bit more gentle and help them know that we get it and we are here to help.
We are working closely with the team at the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital to support their needs to easily get the care packs to families. We pay for couriers to get packs to regional families. Whenever the Palliative Care service calls and needs something, we are there to help.
We have donated $20,000 to the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Lakinyeri beach house. This money is going towards families staying at the house enjoying memories and making moments. We provide a photo session, surf lessons, massages, meals out, whatever they wish to do with their respite holiday time at the beach house. We plan to continue this donation each year.
We have big plans for the future of HAS growing to support families’ needs with a podcast to share stories, a volunteer-driven car for families to get to appointments plus bespoke items when a family just needs help when times are unbearable.
If you would like to find out more and help us to contribute to and support Paediatric Palliative Care families please visit our website www.hasfoundation.org.au
HAS will turn 2 on August the 8th so we are only very new but we hope to make a big difference in the future and help families.
Live in the moment and Love for a Lifetime