10-year-old James Wharehinga has lived with Autism his whole life. For him loud sounds were always problematic, an issue which impacted his entire family as they were unable to dance, sing or play music in their home.
However all of that changed in 2017 when a very shy and timid James, who was diagnosed with Wilms Tumour in 2016, attended a Camp Quality Disco and danced for the first time in his life. The tables turned that night, in more ways than one, because now James can't get enough of music!
"I just heard the music and got really excited and started dancing," James tell Now To Love.
"It was a Justin Timberlake song called Can't Stop the Feeling which was my favourite song, but now it's my second favourite song, and my first favourite is Shotgun by George Ezra!"
James' mum Karen, could not believe what she was seeing, "We drove home from that camp with the radio on for the whole three hours, and we've never been able to do that!"
James' story is not only gorgeous, it's inspiring as he throws his support behind Camp Quality, the organisation that changed his life, as they celebrate 'Kid-ness' this Christmas.
James is the epitome of 'kid-ness', which is the sheer delight of being in the moment, believing anything is possible and giving with all your heart – it's the essence of being a kid, and Camp Quality is hoping to see that spirit thrive, Australia wide this year.
The joy that comes from music would have been a huge benefit in 2016 when sweet little James was diagnosed with a cancer that had the potential to devastate his young life.
James' mum, Karen spoke to Now To Love, to talk about that time. This is their story …
"In November 2016, I felt like an ordinary mum of three, excitedly welcoming back James from his very first overnight school camp. As with any mum, I was anxious having him away but knew this was a normal feeling. What I didn't know was that in two days without any warning, my anxious feeling was about to reach new heights."
"It was just two days later that our lives took a devastating turn. At 7:00am on Monday morning, we went to the GP as James had blood in his urine. Two hospitals later, on Tuesday, he had an ultrasound and that was when I was faced of witnessing my son being told that he had cancer at just eight-years-old.
"That night I had to put him in an ambulance by himself and with my seven-month-old in the back, I drove for two hours to get to Lady Cilento hospital in Brisbane. By 3am Wednesday, we were in the oncology ward.
"Two years today marks the anniversary for when James started Chemotherapy."
"When they found the tumour, it was 15 centimetres long, 11.5 centimetres wide and 11.5 centimetres deep and it had consumed his whole left kidney and destroyed it.
"My son's courage has been my inspiration throughout this journey. He is an amazing child. He vomited for days after chemo treatment and never complained through any of it. He never said, 'why me?'.
"I gave him the choice of if he wanted to have the treatment, I gave him the power. I asked him if he wanted to fight this and get the treatment. I felt it was important to give him the power back and let him make a decision. And in this moment James changed forever. He found a new confidence and all through it he smiled."
"When we got to Lady Cilento hospital, Camp Quality puppets visited us and it was the first time I had seen James, or any of us, smile for a few days. We had truly lost our Kid-ness. It's easy kids and their families to lose their 'kid-ness' during a cancer experience like ours.
"Camp Quality came into the ward every Thursday and hosted a pizza night once a month. They even came to his school and did a puppet show to explain to the other kids what James had been through and why he didn't have any hair. This helped so much and made James feel a lot more comfortable at school. He was so worried about going to school bald, but this made the world of difference.
"This is why we teamed up with the charity to support their beautiful Kid-ness Advent Calendars which we love having in our home for the countdown to Christmas."
Finding music at the Camp Quality Disco
"I have no words to explain how this made us feel to see James enjoying music and dance. What we thought was impossible became a reality right in front of us. To say I was so surprised to see him dancing in the middle of the loud disco is an understatement! I don't think I'll ever be able to explain in words how I felt in that moment.
"Ever since that wonderful night, he can't get enough of hearing his favourite tunes in the car and from his dad's guitar at home."
If you'd like to support the great work that Camp Quality do, The Camp Quality 2018 Kid-ness range is available HERE.