For the last four days, Dexter has worked his little body so hard and shown such determination, that he has made us really sit back and think.
About a year ago I heard about Conductive Education Therapy, and as much as I tried, I couldn't get my head around what the therapy was all about - but I knew that it sounded great, and exactly what we needed to try.
So, we put the plans in motion and made the decision to uproot our little family for the month. We drove for two days, and booked accommodation for almost five weeks. Andrew juggled his leave, taking every last minute he was owed, and combining it with his rostered days off, because we knew this was important, and he needed to be there, too.
We walked in to the Future Footprints center on Tuesday morning, and were greeted with smiles and happy faces, welcoming us into their world.
The therapy started straight away and we didn't even realise it!
They had Dexter sitting - not in a supported, $9000 seat, but in a 'normal', high backed, wooden chair.
There were no side support structures, no harnesses to hold him in - just a chair at the table.
Without thinking, we handed our son over, and trusted them.
And he sat, for the first time, in a 'normal' chair, with only minimal support from his therapist.
He held on to a pole suction-capped to the table, and kept his head high.
At that point, I knew the therapy was going to be worth the changes we were putting ourselves through.
The therapy is based on a lot of repetition and singing, lots of singing! It's making him use muscles that he hasn't used and learn skills that most of us take for granted. It's done in a fun way and in short bursts so as not to cause too much discomfort. It's based on routine, which works well for me. The days change, but the focus is on sitting on the ground or on the seat; walking without his walker; going to the toilet; using his hands; feeding himself; holding a drink bottle and actually drinking from it; playing; singing; painting and being a kid.
The therapists are lovely and so encouraging.
They have given advice and tips on what to do when we get home, but most importantly, they haven't given up on Dexter. They see him and they see his disability, but they put him first.
Day 1 was filled with smiles and the cheeky nature that Dexter shows. It made me hopeful for day 2, but I knew realistically, day two would be hard.
I wasn't expecting heart-breakingly hard, though.
The first thing they did on day 2 was walking. Dexter's muscles were so sore and tired from the day before, that he just cried - real tears.
It took all my strength not to firstly, burst into tears myself and secondly, not to pick him up and walk out.
For a kid who has been through so much, he doesn't complain, so when I heard this sound, it truly was heart breaking. But we both persevered and his strength got me through. And before long, he was back to smiling and enjoying the therapy and singing again.
On day 3, he fell asleep after morning tea, at the table, while sitting in his unsupported seat!
Day 4 saw him bring back his cheeky side and he laughed while the therapists ran around, making funny noises.
He falls asleep in the car before we leave the driveway, on our way home, and he has been sleeping through the night, which he never does. He is exhausted.
But when he is awake, he is chatting and giving amazing cuddles - he is holding on and you feel his arms tighten around your neck.
Has it been worth it? Of course.
How could we not give it a try?
The benefits Dexter will receive from this will be so very worthwhile.
But the benefits our family will receive are so far beyond that.
The last time we spent this much time together, as a family, was during Dexter's chemo days. Those days are filled with bad memories and were not happy times. This is our chance to regroup, as a family, and create happy memories.
We are loving being together, just the four of us. It's great for the kids.
I'm excited for the next 3 weeks and for the potential they have, for bringing out the best in our little man.
To hear his cries of pain was heartbreaking,
but feeling his stronger hugs and hearing his chatty voice,
we know Dexter understands the importance and value of this.
It's been a big week!
Today I worked hard, and it still hurt a little bit, but I thought the therapists were very funny when they were making funny noises!
It's rainy and cold here, so it's a good day for cuddling!
I'm loving spending lots of time with Mum and Dad... and my noisy sister!
And, today is another of Dexter's anniversaries.
Two years ago today, our lives were once again turned upside down... with the official news that Dexter had cancer... hepatoblastoma.
Apart from some physical scars for him, and mental scars for all of us, you wouldn't know what he has been through!
He's now 17 months cancer clear!