One day, life was wonderfully normal. The next, everything was in chaos. And all because of a photo that was posted on Facebook.

Like any excited new mother, Kelly wanted to show off her new son to her friends and family. Posting a photo on Facebook, she shows her six-month-old son Finn smiling gleefully at the camera.

Shortly after, one of her friends, a medical scientist, sent a message recommending she have her son’s left eye checked after noticing what could be a potential abnormality.

Kelly booked an appointment for Finn to see a Doctor and a few days later, with husband Daniel and daughter Anais, they drove the 200 kilometres from Minlaton, on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia to The Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. The diagnosis was retino blastoma, a form of cancer.

“When you hear a doctor use the word ‘cancer’ in relation to your baby it’s just totally surreal. You experience complete disbelief.” Kelly says.

“The feeling could be described as devastation, but actually it’s deeper than that. Finn was just so little. Everything was fine. Then in the space of five minutes your entire world changes.”

Over the following 12 months, the family were back and forth from Adelaide whilst Finn had treatment. A social worker introduced Kelly to Ronald McDonald House Adelaide, a charity that offers accommodation and support to out-of-town families with seriously ill children.

“At first we saw Ronald McDonald House simply as a place to stay but we soon discovered it was so much more,” Kelly says.

“There is no doom and gloom in this House, despite the fact that so many families are going through such awful experiences. There is only support.”

“Doctors decided to remove his eye but at the very last minute, as Finn was being wheeled into the operating theatre, a specialist made the decision to try to save the eye by first trying chemotherapy,” Kelly says.

The family spent a total of four months at Ronald McDonald House over the course of Finn’s check-ups and treatment, which so far has been wonderfully successful.

“The staff, volunteers and other families actually invest in your journey. They look after your kids sometimes, just to give you a break. And the kids absolutely love being there - it’s such a fun place for them and when we’re home they always ask when we’re going back.”

“Strangely, being at Ronald McDonald House can actually be more comfortable than being at your real home. As well as all of the support, you actually feel a sense of belonging. In your hometown you stand out because you’re the family with the sick child. But at Ronald McDonald House you fit right in.”

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


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