Lighting up the dark

Murphy family recently received a Dalmatian puppy from the Starlight Foundation. Pic of 5-year-old Hunter and his dog Rocky. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 209174_03

Ewen McRae

By Ewen McRae

When Bridie and Christopher Murphy noticed their son was unwell in May last year, they could not have imagined what the next 12 months would bring.

Five-year-old Hunter is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, meaning regular trips to the Royal Children’s Hospital and weeks of intensive treatment at a time.

It’s more than any young kid should have to endure.

“It took about a month for us to get a diagnosis, because it presented as basically an infection at first,“ Ms Murphy said.

“He wasn’t eating or drinking and wasn’t getting better, and eventually a GP sent him to get some blood tests. We got a call about 10 at night from the pathologist telling us to take him straight into the hospital and he was in intensive care for about five days.

“He had a blood transfusion and was on to chemo pretty quickly, and from there it’s been a long road.

“It’s devastating. It’s hard to put into words, and it’s heartbreaking to see your child go through something like that.

“He’s doing better now, back at school for the first time in nearly a year, but sometimes a quick trip to the hospital would mean a two week stay.“

While he was receiving treatment in the hospital, a visit from the Starlight Children’s Foundation gave the family a chance to brighten Hunter’s day, with his one wish being a new puppy for the family.

Enter Rocky the Dalmatian.

“Hunter’s favourite movie is 101 Dalmatians, and we’ve probably watched it 100 times in hospital,“ Ms Murphy said.

“He’s [Rocky] been a great addition to the family, and it brightens his day to see Rocky when he comes home.

“It’s that light at the end of the tunnel, and he always talks about patting his soft ears and it’s something to help in the tough times.

“We’re really grateful to the Starlight Foundation for helping us, and I think it’s a really special thing to help kids going through a tough time and bring some happiness and joy into their life.“

The Starlight Foundation is running its annual appeal and hopes to raise $355,500 by June 30 to bring happiness to seriously ill and immunocompromised children.

For more information or to donate, visit