Connor Maclean Kid Courageous
By ANN-MARIE MAY
HIS bright smile has the ability to break many hearts. His struggle behind the smile will break many more.
But there will be no tears. Connor Maclean's positive attitude and love of life will make sure of that.
There was a one-in-a-million chance of Connor, 9, being born with all the anomalies he has, but the really amazing thing is the way in which this future actor, model and artist deals with his condition.
Already in his short life he has had more than 35 operations, the first 20 being in his first three years.
And there is no end in sight.
The operations, along with medicine and multiple daily medical procedures (from 6am to 10.30pm) are what keep him alive.
Connor's vertebrae, spinal cord, food and windpipe, stomach, bowel, bladder, kidney, hearing and limbs are all affected by his condition.
His problems are debilitating and he can't do what most nine-year-old boys want to do ? that is run around, play sports and basically be very physical.
Missing bones in the right hand and forearm and problems with his legs, his hands and feet have splints to assist support and help curb additional problems.
Recently he was diagnosed with having a severe allergy to latex/rubber so he now carries an epi-pen (adrenaline injection) around with him in case of an anaphylactic reaction.
Connor's life span is unknown, but despite all his problems he still manages to smile, laugh and enjoy life as much as he can, coping with the hurdles as they come.
It's this attitude, not his condition, that Connor's mum, Cheryl, hopes people will see when they look at her son.
"Connor wins the hearts of all he meets," Cheryl said.
"He loves singing and telling jokes to anyone who will listen, he has a lovely voice and is very talented with his drawing ? even though he has had to be taught to use his left hand.
"He is a real fighter. He keeps amazing the doctors over and over again."
Connor is currently in Year 3 at Narranga Primary School, which has played an important role in helping him lead a normal life.
Even though he is out of the classroom constantly for medical procedures, illness or hospitalisation he still manages to keep up with his classmates.
A nurse/aide is with Connor all day (although they try not to cramp his style too much), a medical room has been set up for his procedures, he has a special desk, chair, writing equipment and his classroom is a no rubber-zone.
"It has been a big learning curve, but Narranga and the staff have been helpful. When we face a new problem, we work together to find a solution," Cheryl said.
His classmates are also on his side, especially best mates Douglas Faircloth and Joshua MacGinnes.
"A lot of the kids do their best to look out for him and Douglas and Joshua are great," Cheryl said.
"There are some things Connor can't do, like wrestle and run around too much, so they can't play with him all of the time.
"But I think they are learning a balance and despite the normal tiffs boys at that age are going to have, they are always there for him."
Celebrity Heads is one of the boys' favourite games to play at school and out of school hours it is straight on the Game Boy.
"I'm the best. I get the highest levels, so that makes me pretty good," Connor said. And the boys agree.
"I also like to draw and I sing in the choir. There is lots of stuff I can't do but I find other things I am good at."
What the future holds for Connor is anyone's guess, but one thing is for sure ? he is a proven champion when it comes to fighting battles.
"He has his down days and gets depressed. But as long as he can still find a smile I don't have a reason not to smile, either," Cheryl said.