At 3, Zoe found the overnight change from full on full time daycare girl to housebound chemo kid hard to adjust to. The sudden change to all of her routines and the scary reality of medical procedures really rocked her little world. The doctors, nurses and play therapist all did their best to help her adjust, but the unlikely hero who really helped her come to terms with it all was an Australian TV vet in a cheesecutter hat.
In the depths of that horrid winter, Zoe watched re-runs of Harry’s Practice religiously at 5 O’clock every day to see him deal with run over dogs and sneezy mice and cats with tumours and ponies with behavioural problems.
Soon Zoe’s toys, mother and grandparents were her patients. A princess tent was her “office” and “surgery” where we were summoned to be treated with spare bits of gauze, syringes, thermometers and “medicine.” We were subjected to x-rays and operations, bandagings and injections. Other times we were Dr Harry and she was the dog.
A friend sent Zoe a number of hats and Zoe immediately seized on a couple as being “Dr Harry hats,” completing her look.
I firmly believe it was this play that helped her deal with all of the procedures she had to go through, including the 30 general anaesthetics she had for radiation treatment around this time.
When they stopped the Dr Harry re-runs Zoe was heart broken. When they played some episodes again over Christmas at 6am, I just had to whisper in her ear that Dr Harry was on for her eyes to pop open.
Her current ambition is to grow up and be a vet who flies a plane (and also a fire engine on the side I think).
My cousin’s son’s girlfriend (!) had a rabbit on a Better Homes & Gardens segment, so Zoe is now the proud owner of a Dr Harry signed picture. Just recently out of the blue she asked me if we could go to Australia to visit Dr Harry.
And…. the Make A Wish Foundation are going to make this happen. They don’t usually approve overseas travel for kids her age, but her wish was so specific and heartfelt, they decided to do it.
Zoe doesn’t know it yet (and I’m not sure at what stage I should tell her) but the week after next we will be in Sydney and she will get to meet her hero. Hopefully she won’t be too star struck!