Train dream realised

A ride on Puffing Billy was all that five-year-old cancer sufferer Xavier Grogan wanted. 188974_01

By Kyra Gillespie

A ride on Emerald’s iconic Puffing Billy steam train made all five-year-old cancer sufferer Xavier Grogan’s wishes come true.

In 2015, Xavier was diagnosed with a Stage 3 bladder cancer (Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma) and has since endured 45 rounds of chemotherapy, targeted radiation and surgery.

Now an outpatient of Queensland Children’s Hospital, Xavier asked Starlight for a wish that would take him and his family a world away from hospital.

He wanted a wish that involved his favourite forms of transport including – aeroplanes, helicopters, trains and boats.

As part of that wish, Xavier and his family travelled to Cardinia and took a ride on Puffing Billy on Saturday 15 December.

“For a boy that loves planes, trains and everything that moves, we thought it would be great for Xavier to get up close and personal with some of the transport he loves to play with for his Starlight Wish,” Nerida Grogan, Xavier’s mum said.

“The build-up for going to Melbourne has just been immense this week. Every morning Xavier’s asked ‘how many days until we’re going to Melbourne’.

“And so to actually wake up and it be the day that we actually get to go on the Puffing Billy steam train in Melbourne, just about blew his mind. The look on his face this morning, I wish I could just capture that moment forever.

“The Puffing Billy experience from today just been incredible.”

The youngster also took part in a flight simulator experience at Brisbane Airport, a classic riverboat cruise and finish off with a scenic helicopter ride.

“Xavier is a very happy, energetic, and inquisitive young boy. He loves to know how everything works, and he just doesn’t stop,” Ms Grogan continued.

“So Xavier was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma of the bladder when he was two, that was back in 2015. A tumour had formed inside his bladder which restricted his ability to go to the bathroom and he was in a lot of pain.

“As a two-year-old boy at the time, he didn’t know what was going on with his body. And that was a real shock to us, to discover your baby has cancer.

“Hearing those words your child has cancer is something that you don’t forget, and it changes you forever.”

By Christmas, Starlight is hoping to raise $728,000 to grant 112 life-changing Starlight Wishes to sick kids and their families like Xavier’s across Australia.

To find out how you can support sick kids in hospital this Christmas, visit

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