A two-day hospital visit turned into a 12-month medical ordeal that brought the family’s community together in ways they never expected.

Five-year-old Mitchell, from Lock on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, was admitted to hospital for what his family thought would be a simple low-risk operation to remove fluid from a swollen testicle.

Mitchell’s mum Bronny, had packed enough clothes to be in Adelaide with her son at the hospital for two to three days. Instead, the operation revealed something far more frightening - a malignant tumour. Doctors now told her she should expect to stay for 12 months while treatment was ongoing.

The testicle was removed as quickly as possible and chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy began. Home was 650 kilometres away so her life was turned upside down.

Fortunately the family were offered a room at Ronald McDonald House Adelaide. Bronny’s husband, Christopher would miss out on a year of work as he too would be staying in Adelaide to help out with Mitchell and their other two children. The financial stress, even with Ronald McDonald House to stay in, would be enormous.

After hearing of the family’s predicament the townspeople of Lock, whose children had played with little Mitchell and who felt the pain being suffered by the Pearce family, put on a fundraising dinner to help them out. Local businesses donated items for auction, popular bands played and others supplied food and beverages. The organisers originally hoped they might be able to raise $10,000.

“The next day,” Bronny says, “They rang and told me the news. They had raised $70,000! I told them I didn’t need all of that money, so we put some aside in case the cancer returned and we gave a $10,000 lump sum to Ronald McDonald House in Adelaide.”

The donation to Ronald McDonald House was specifically to fund what Bronny called the ‘LOCK (Loving Our Crafty Kids) Program’ in the House.

“The House was our saviour and we couldn’t imagine how we might have even survived without it.” Bronny says. “But it was difficult for our three-year-old son, Harvey, who was too young to understand why he had been pulled away from his friends and his playgroup. The LOCK Program, which would bring kids together once a week for a fun craft workshop, would make life a little bit more fun and social for all kids in the House.”

Mitchell is now clear of cancer and has regular scans to guard against a return of the disease. The family is utilising the Ronald McDonald Learning Program which provides a specialist tutor to help previously sick kids to catch up on schoolwork, for Mitchell’s education. And just as importantly, the LOCK Program is now run every Thursday in Ronald McDonald House Adelaide, thanks to the good people of Lock.

Every year Ronald McDonald House Charities helps thousands of families when they need it the most. Help us to continue making a difference bringing help and comfort to families in need.


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