Ethan with his father




They had been preparing for their holiday for 3 years. But three weeks in, everything changed for this family of four from Wagga Wagga. Their 8-year-old son, Ethan, was struck with cancer.

Parents Clint and Rachael were taking their two children, Ella and Ethan, on the holiday of a lifetime across Australia. But they did not get far. They had been driving for just two hours when, for no apparent reason, Ethan, began vomiting. To start with, it didn’t seem serious. But then he fainted. And got progressively worse.

After 12 days, Ethan was still vomiting. The doctors at the hospital in Alice Springs were worried. They said he must be transported to The Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. From there, they were air-lifted to The Sydney Children’s Hospital in Westmead, NSW.

So that’s where the family arrived for Ethan’s treatment. They were 460km from home with a seriously ill child and had nowhere to stay. Immediately, Ronald McDonald House Charities came to the rescue.

“We found the House to be a very stress-free environment. It allowed us to stay together near the hospital which was so important to us at that time,” says Ethan’s mum, Rachael.

“That first week at The Sydney Children's Hospital was the longest, most stressful, most painful, most exhausting and frighting and worrying,” says Rachael. “And in the end, we received the news that changed our lives. Ethan was diagnosed with the normally very aggressive cancer, ‘Burkitt’s Lymphoma’. We were devastated.”

“We were told treatment, including chemotherapy, would be hard for at least six months. As a close family we're struggling to deal with the many issues relating to Ethan's illness, but with an enormous amount of faith, positivity, and a wonderful support base of family and friends we're  coping. And being part of the Ronald McDonald House family has meant so much to us.”

The Ronald McDonald House program helps preserve the family unit in the midst of physical, emotional and financial stress. It also gives parents the chance to draw hope and comfort from other families in similar situations.

“Due to Ethan's treatment and the high risk of infections we need to be close to the hospital. We have found the help and support of the team at Ronald McDonald House to be just wonderful. All the team members have made us feel very welcome and it's a relief that we can be close to Ethan at alltimes. It has certainly been a home-away-from-home for our family,” says Rachael.