Brave Renae?s time with Bucky ?magical
By CRAIG McTEAR
ONLY a cold heart would have been unmoved by little Renae McDermott's magical encounter with Bucky the dolphin.
She was a little wary of climbing into the pool, but when she did finally take the plunge, her eyes sparkled and she laughed, just like any other playful five-year-old.
But Renae is no ordinary kid.
Something horrible is lurking inside her, and frustrated doctors can do no more to help.
In August, 2004, Renae was diagnosed with Wilms' Tumour, the most common form of kidney cancer. It has since spread to her lungs.
The little battler has endured extensive bouts of chemotherapy over the past two years, and she was twice given the all-clear, but the cancer has now returned for good.
Her mum, Karen, and dad, Robert, are doing everything possible to ensure she has a ball in the limited time she has left.
That's why Renae, her brother, Patrick, and her parents hit the road with their caravan last month for a holiday to remember.
They've escaped the freezing winter in their home town of Kingston, in Tasmania, to reduce Renae's chances of contracting the flu. That's the last thing she needs at the moment.
Renae has seen her grandparents in South Australia, and last week, the family rolled into Park Beach Holiday Park.
They went tobogganing at the Big Banana and ocean cruising on the Spirit of Coffs Harbour.
Things got even better on Wednesday when Renae had her first up-close encounter with some of the sea life at the Pet Porpoise Pool, following a phone call from Camp Quality.
It was also a special day for her brother Patrick, who turned eight.
"Renae loves the water," Robert said. "She's very good at the moment. She's very happy within herself, and she's having a lot of fun.
Robert and Karen are handling their daughter's dire situation the best way they know how ? drawing on the love and support of their family and friends.
"It's been very stressful as anyone would expect. You always hear about it happening to someone else's kid, but this time it's not," Robert said.
"She knows she's been sick, but by doing what we've been doing, we're taking her mind off whatever she might be feeling.
"And she's really excited about having her hair back.
"She can make anyone laugh, and she can tell the character of a person in two seconds.
"She just loves having fun. She'll normally try anything, and everyone at school is her friend.
"I'm her father, so I'm probably biased, but I reckon she's a bit magical."