Six year-old Burradoo boy, Josh Hammond, is unlike other children his age.
Josh has a mission.
A mission to help other sick kids feel less afraid.
The youngster was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at 5 years old.
He has since helped research an interactive ‘lift the flap’ book to introduce children to the hospital environment.
He wants to spread the message that “you shouldn't be scared because everybody actually wants to help you in a hospital.”
Josh is halfway through a two-year treatment plan at Westmead Children’s Hospital with follow up appointments in the Southern Highlands.
When an old friend of the family, Katie Daynes, heard of Josh’s diagnosis she reached out with an idea to provide a positive focus for the family.
Josh took on his role of researcher with enthusiasm.
The writers from Usborne Children’s Books sent him questions and with the help of his mother he provided first-hand insight.
Proud mum, Katie Hammond, said that the questions were very thorough.
“They wanted to make it feel more real,” she said.
Josh answered questions such as “is it a long walk from the car park to the entrance?”
And the quick-witted young lad had a definitive response.
“Yes it is! Yesterday we walked down eight ramps from our car to the entrance,” Josh said.
“I like it when she [mum] doesn’t forget anything in the car because yesterday we walked all the way to the hospital door and she realised she forgot the iPad.
“So we had to walk all the way back.”
Meanwhile, Katie’s experiences at the hospital have also been taken on board.
“One of the main things I remember from the blurry first days was this overwhelming feeling that this oncology ward and the hospital had been there operating the whole time.
“We all just go about our daily lives and this amazing, tragic but also wonderful stuff happens all the time,” she said.
“It's very sobering. This book is a way to try and take away some of that [fear] for the kids that are involved.”
Throughout his treatment Josh has remained positive, he has tackled daily challenges with a sense of humour.
Katie recalls Josh’s response to an outbreak of nits at his school with a laugh. “He had no hair at the time and said ‘that's one of the good things’.”
As far as hospital is concerned, Katie wants others to “get the overall message that it's a good place.” “That hospitals are there to help people, they leave feeling better. That's a good thing,” she said.
“So if Josh has been part of that [message] it's all I could ask for. Even if just one child read it and then something dramatic happened to them and they were able to cope through remembering the book, then that would be totally brilliant.”
Look Inside a Hospital was released in Australia on February 10. It is available to buy online at www.harpercollins.com.au/9781474948166/look-inside-a-hospital/
- Do you have a special story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you. Please send details through the Southern Highland News website portal at www.southernhighlandnews.com.au, click on community tab, then send us your ‘news’.