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Cancer, comedy and Christmas crackers: How Andrew Barnett’s making Christmas funny again-NewsCO

January 29, 2017

“Ted wasn’t at school at this stage, he was a few days off turning four,” Andrew recalls.

“Just in the middle of the night, a Thursday night, he woke up, he was crying and complaining he had a sore bum… didn’t think too much of it, gave him some Panadol and he went back to sleep.

“The next morning he’s saying ‘I’ve got a sore bum and it’s getting worse’ so we go up to the local doctors. By the time we got there he’s pretty inconsolable, he’s in quite a bit of pain and running a fever.

“The doctor basically looks at him and says ‘I don’t know what’s going on’.”

It’s a parent’s worse nightmare yet one that quickly became a reality for Andrew and his wife Nat.

“By the time we got to the hospital he couldn’t really load-bare on his legs, he wasn’t really walking.

“The tests they started ordering started getting more complicated, like he had a full body scan.

“This doctor he was very on the case, he goes ‘look, I’m not happy sending him, it looks like at different times I could send him home, but I’m not happy sending him home until we’ve worked out what this is’.

“And he goes ‘I’ve just had a call from the labs, they’ve put his films, his blood test films, under the microscope and they’ve detected blasts’.

“I was like ‘I don’t know what that means’, which is an indicative test for leukaemia.”

Andrew says it felt like “all the oxygen going out of the room” in that moment as the doctor explained to him the severity of Ted’s condition.

“We finally got to the ward and it was late at night and all the … everyone’s got their curtains closed and I remember they set us in and Ted had fallen asleep,” he says.

“I remember just sitting on the side of this fold out bed going just how did… a week ago we were at Port Douglas at a mate’s wedding and I was snorkeling on the Barrier Reef.

“That was the first time with Nat that I really cried and then I’m like ‘oh man’.

“I felt like, you know when you see a prison movie and the new guy’s coming in and he’s sobbing in the room and all the other prisoners can hear?

“That’s a weird analogy, but it was a weird feeling and it just felt like… yeah.”

Ted began chemotherapy right away, which saw him lose his hair and battle the side-effects of several different forms of medication.

“Kids for the treatment of leukemia are on fairly strong doses of steroids,” says Andrew.

“So what happens is he’s hungry all the time and super emotional, like, roid-raging like you wouldn’t believe.

“I remember him standing here in the kitchen and I was over there about 10 past 6 one morning making spaghetti Bolognese and him just crying because it wasn’t ready yet.

“And all I could think was I don’t know why they need drug testers in athletics, just go round and find the guy who’s crying because his dad didn’t make spaghetti bolognese.”

Yet Ted’s treatment had the dream outcome and he’s officially in recovery after the doctors declared that he has gone in to remission. For Andrew, their family’s ordeal led to a very special project with children’s cancer charity Camp Quality.

“So Camp Quality for our family has been amazing so anything I can do to help them,” he says about being approached with the idea.

“What we thought we’d do is we’ve got comedians, basically, to write the jokes that are in the Christmas crackers.

“Probably the big name is Rove McManus has got some jokes in there, Ronnie Chieng… “

“When they said to me I was like ‘this is perfect’ so they said ‘do you think you could help us get onboard?’ and I was like ‘yeah!’.”

So far the Pozible campaign for the project has raised over $120,000 online with more than 2000 people getting behind the idea and backing the Christmas crackers.

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