Story ALANA & GRACE'S

JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED!

Her daughter is suffering from cancer and her family may not be home for Christmas but Alana says she’s in a very good place at Ronald McDonald House.

Alana and husband Kelly had no idea what was wrong when their eight-year old daughter Grace was suddenly taken seriously ill at their home in Australind. They raced their daughter 160 kilometres to Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital.

On examination, the doctors discover a cancerous tumour that filled half her chest, running from collar bone to her diaphragm.  It was so large it pressed a lung shut, and pushed her heart to the other side.

“We were told Grace’s treatment would take about 12 months. The hotel near the hospital charged $180 a night and we certainly couldn’t afford that,” Alana says, who previously worked part-time in a gym.

The prospect seemed bleak as there was nowhere for parents to sleep on the cancer ward, other than sharing their child's bed. This is less than ideal and also terrifying when you consider all the tubes and wires you could get tangled in while trying to sleep.

A miracle occurred about three weeks after their daughter was rushed to hospital in January 2013 - they were offered a room in the local Ronald McDonald House.

“Ronald McDonald House is incredible in so many ways,” Alana says. “I can walk to the ward in less than three minutes. Every night when I come back, physically and emotionally exhausted, there are lovely meals prepared by the amazing staff and volunteers.”

Photography by Maternal Moments

“I honestly believe the House contributes to Grace’s recovery. We never feel alone and we’re surrounded by people who are knowledgeable about what’s going on because there are always other families that are going through the same thing. There are lots of other little girls with no hair and they all play together - they’re all ‘normal’.”

Alana and Kelly have two other daughters, Lily, 6 and Isla, 4. The unit at Ronald McDonald House means the girls can stay over, especially on weekends when electrical planner Kelly drives them to Perth after each working week and can be with their sister during her treatment and recovery.

“We’ve been in Ronald McDonald House for ten months now and it means we can be together as a family as often as possible.”

“It’s as if we’re surrounded by wonderful family. And actually we are - the staff, volunteers and other people in this House do become family. In a lot of ways, when you’re in this situation it’s better to come home to Ronald McDonald House than to go home to your own house every night. I don’t know what I’d do without the people here, and I’ll miss them when we’re gone.”

Every year over 7,500 families like Alana’s stay at Ronald McDonald Houses. Help us to keep making a difference, supporting these families when they need it the most.

Photography by Maternal Moments

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