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How music therapy helped Abigail find her voice

Robert Forsythe is extremely proud of his 16-year-old daughter Abigail who survived brain trauma. They are pictured with Abigail's brother Sam and sister Holly. The family hopes everyone will support the Children's Hospital Foundation telethon on Saturday, November 18, 2017.
Robert Forsythe is extremely proud of his 16-year-old daughter Abigail who survived brain trauma. They are pictured with Abigail's brother Sam and sister Holly. The family hopes everyone will support the Children's Hospital Foundation telethon on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Chris Ison ROK041117ctelethon1

ABIGAIL Forsythe came incredibly close to losing her life when she was a little girl.

Now 16, the Rockhampton teenager was born with abnormal blood vessels in her brain.

The condition didn't really have much of an impact until the vessels ruptured when she was five.

"She managed to find her way into our bedroom," Abigail's dad Robert said of the heart-stopping night he and his wife Shirley woke to find their daughter stumbling about in severe pain.

"She was weak down one side of her body so we called an ambulance and five hours later she was in intensive care in Brisbane."

Surgeons spent 10 hours delicately navigating the girl's brain, trying to remove blood clots and fix damaged blood vessels.

"It was life-saving surgery," Robert said.

"It was touch and go for a while.

"She was in an induced coma for a couple of weeks to ensure she didn't move.

"She had so many staples in her brain and they couldn't risk anything happening."

When Abigail came out of the coma she was a changed child, unable to speak, walk or do anything else that children take for normal.

Thanks to the Children's Hospital Foundation, Abigail was given a particularly fun form of medical help to help her find her voice - music therapy.

The treatment was so good that the youngster was soon singing and before long she was talking again.

"She's an amazing singer," Robert said.

"She could sing before she could speak - it was amazing."

While it's been 11 years since the blood vessels ruptured, the cheerful teenager is still recovering and that means she's earning "frequent flyer points" travelling to Brisbane for treatment at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.

"She's had operations on her leg and her arm and she's been having seizures since she was 12," Robert said.

"The one constant right through this has been the pediatric rehabilitation service and we've had the same specialists."

Robert said Abigail would always have challenges including mobility issues.

"She does have some acquired brain damage and sometimes she struggles a little," he said.

"She will need some support as she transitions to adult life."

Both Lady Cilento and the Children's Hospital Foundation are vital to Abigail's life, something her parents are incredibly grateful for.

"One day your life is perfectly normal and the next day it is completely upside down," Robert said.

"You're often living in Brisbane in a little cramped apartment away from your home and a lot of the time between the hospital sessions you just go stir crazy.

"The foundation helps with that - it provides things for the children to do and they come around and cheer the kids up.

"It's that emotional support the volunteers offer for people from regional areas who don't have families to lean on."

Abigail is one of 1004 Central Queensland residents treated at Lady Cilento last financial year.

The youngster is taking on a big challenge, helping to promote the annual Channel Nine Telethon, supporting the Children's Hospital Foundation on Saturday (November 18).

The appeal aims to raise $11 million.

As well as supporting patients at LCCH, money raised during the telethon pays for vital medical equipment, research and a range of medical services at Lady Cilento and throughout regional Queensland and Northern NSW.

Abigail urged Queenslanders to dig deep for the foundation.

"We can't take the hospital and the foundation for granted," Abigail said.

"It's important to help."

 

Children celebrate the $12m raised during the 2016 Channel Nine Telethon that supports the Children's Hospital Foundation.
Children celebrate the $12m raised during the 2016 Channel Nine Telethon that supports the Children's Hospital Foundation.

Tune in to TV to dial up support for sick kids

THIS year's Channel Nine Telethon organisers hope to dial up $11 million of support for our sick kids.

The star-studded annual event will be broadcast across Queensland and Northern NSW on Saturday (November 18).  

It raises money for the Children's Hospital Foundation.

The foundation provides vital support for young patients attending Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, 60 per cent of whom come from regional Queensland and Northern NSW.

The telethon has raised about $32 million since 2014.

That money has been invested in life-saving medical research, vital pediatric equipment and for "comfort and entertainment" services for ill children and their families.

The foundation has committed $5 million to fund research into priority health areas including cystic fibrosis, childhood nutrition and brain cancer.

"The survival rates for brain cancer have not improved during the past 30 years and only 20 per cent of children with the disease will survive," foundation CEO Rosie Simpson said.

"And if they do survive, they face really chronic health issues throughout their lives."

The foundation offers a significant bright spot in the lives of children who stay at Lady Cilento.

It offers the in-house Juiced TV where kids get to star in their own television show.

It also provides the fun Clown Doctors, volunteers who entertain children with books, movies and games so parents can take a break, the Cuddle Carers program for babies, music therapy, pet therapy, special events and hospital visits by famous people.

"We also help pay for clothes for the kids, we offer travel grants for families to join their child in hospital and we fund the social work program so the families are supported," Ms Simpson said.

"The idea is to try to ensure the children have as normal a time as possible while they are in hospital."

The telethon starts at 7pm on Saturday and there will be a special documentary on the Lady Cilento and its patients from 5pm.

The entertainment line-up includes Leo Sayer, Pseudo Echo, The Voice 2017 winner Judah Kelly, Eurovision star Dami Im and rock band Dragon.- NewsRegional

Donate at 9telethon.com.au or by phoning 1800 909 900.

Topics:  channel nine channel nine telethon children's hospital foundation telethon editors pcks fundraising health lady cilento children's hospital sick kids

News Corp Australia

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