Mark and Louise Boere and their four kids, Isaac (8), Ben (7), Lucy (4) and Izzy (2) live in Greymouth and lead the typical busy life that comes with raising a family. But on June 10 last year their busy lives would be changed after a visit to the GP.
Two-year-old Izzy had been looking a bit pale and feeling off colour for a week or so, so Louise took her for a check-up and they were hastily sent for a blood test. By that evening Grandma had been sent for from Napier and Louise flew to Christchurch with Izzy after learning she had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Mark was away in Timaru, so he drove to Christchurch to meet his wife and youngest daughter at the Child Cancer Unit.
Our next few weeks there were various tests, weekly Chemotherapy sessions and numerous medications. But there was a ray of light in the chaos of treatment; Izzy was discharged after 10 days and was able to continue her treatment as an outpatient, so the Boere’s settled into Ronald McDonald House South Island to ensure they were close to the hospital.
“It was so fantastic to have a base like Ronald McDonald House South Island. It meant that the other children could come over from the Coast each weekend and they spent the school holidays with us. It was invaluable to have our family together as often as possible while maintaining some sort of routine at home,” says Louise.
The sense of community was also key in supporting the Boere family. “It is a great place to realise that you are not alone in your predicament! I have been encouraged by other families and hope more than anything that we, as a family, have been encouragement to others as well,” adds Louise.
The Boere’s stayed for 50 nights after their initial diagnosis, and are now back at home, although Louise and Izzy travel to Christchurch pretty regularly to maintain treatment, something that will continue for the next two years. The great thing is though, no matter how long their treatment goes for, our doors are always open to them!
“When people ask what we would have done if we didn’t have Ronald McDonald House South Island I am usually speechless for a second or two,” says Louise.
“I simply don’t know how we would have managed without them! We are truly grateful to have had the opportunity to remain as a family unit when we needed it most and ultimately be able to support our little girl through her incredibly tough journey.”