When a child is diagnosed with cancer, a mother will go to any lengths for their medical care, even it takes them far from home.
Many of the families that use our services have had their lives thrown into chaos in the matter of a day, an hour or even a minute. Families like Elizabeth’s, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at just 14 months old, are not only left with devastating news, but their lives are uprooted so they can get their child the urgent medical care they need.
Elizabeth’s mum, Sharon, says the news left her feeling up a creek without a paddle.
They face the stress of their child’s serious illness or injury, the fear of their prognosis, but a need to act quickly. That often leaves families far from home, their jobs, school and support networks, with nowhere to stay and little idea how long they’ll be gone for, so they can get their child the urgent medical care they need.
The specialist care Elizabeth desperately needed at John Hunter Children’s Hospital was over five hours away from their family home in Inverell. COVID-19 quarantine regulations left Sharon on her own without her family network in Brisbane during one of the hardest times of her life as a parent.
“Until you are living under this roof, you don’t get it. People will tell you, but until you live cancer and live being plucked out of your home environment and put into this parallel world – you don’t get it.
“I would be in an extremely difficult situation and I could not do it without Ronald McDonald House. I will forever be indebted to them.”
For over 30 years, we’ve been providing a home away from home and a range of support services so families like Elizabeth’s had a safe space to go to eat, sleep, find their strengths and dry their tears after a difficult day in hospital.
Elizabeth and her mum have been staying in our Newcastle House for a few months now so Elizabeth can receive the life-saving treatment she needs. Having the reassurance of being a five-minute walk from the hospital if something goes wrong has helped exponentially put Sharon at ease.
“Physically and mentally, Elizabeth is amazing – she’s a little warrior. She doesn’t know any different, so in a way, I feel blessed that she is the age she is. We hope we can be home for Christmas, but we so appreciate that we do have a safe place to go to after a long day in hospital.
“We need to be here because the medical team is the best of the best. If we hadn’t had the treatment, we would have already buried her. Every day with Elizabeth is a blessing.”
Sharon thinks the staff and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House “are life-savers”. They are her fill-in family who create a warm, loving and caring environment for mum and daughter to come ‘home’ to everyday.
“Until you are in this situation, you don’t even begin to realise the depth of the services they provide.”
Our houses, family rooms, retreat and learning program create a safe and welcoming environment where families can stay connected, and parents can communicate more easily with their child's medical team.
We help families focus on the most important thing – supporting their seriously ill or injured child through their treatment for the best chance of recovery.
But as a 100 per cent community-owned and operated organisation, we are only able to provide this crucial service with your support.
Help us keep our doors open to more families like Elizabeth’s during their greatest time of need. Your donation – big or small – will make an impact that will last a lifetime.
Our birthday wish is to continue to be here for the next 30 years, providing a home away from home, for families when they need it the most. But we can only achieve this through the support of people like you.