Bonnie's Pit Crew
“It’s like a nightmare but you can’t wake up.”
In October last year, the Hall family returned home to Wellington from our Christchurch House after they were told their 3-year-old daughter Bonnie’s cancer was in complete remission with an excellent prognosis.
However in January this year, parents Jane and Pat returned to Wellington Hospital and received the news no parent ever wants to hear – Bonnie’s cancer was back, with new tumours found throughout her abdomen and lungs.
“She was so sick,” recalls Jane.
“When you’re told something like that, it is like an out of body experience – it didn’t really register. All we knew was that we wanted to be back in Christchurch and go back to our friends at Ronald McDonald House.”
The Hall family, including one-year-old baby sister Frieda, were immediately flown to Christchurch where Bonnie began a very aggressive treatment regime including a stem cell transplant, to fight the cancer.
Bonnie was diagnosed with Wilms tumour, a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys, however even doctors were shocked by its aggressive return to Bonnie’s tiny body.
Managing Bonnie’s busy hospital schedule and care for baby Frieda has been overwhelming for Pat and Jane, however these strong parents say their solace is being able to stay in our Christchurch House.
“At first we were grateful that all the infrastructure was there – the kitchen, the lounge, the laundry and the play area.
“But it is the support we have received from the staff, the volunteers and the other families which has been incredible – you’ve all become part of our family.”
Our Christchurch House has also become a home for grandparents Ross and Anne, who have been there to support their daughter Jane and son-in-law Pat.
Jane says the value of having her parents in an adjoining room has been immeasurable.
Ross and Anne have become our resident house grandparents – emptying dishwashers, taking out the rubbish and making cups of tea for mums and dads.
Anne says being able to stay at the Christchurch House has meant she isn’t worrying about her family far away from home.
“When your grandchild is sick, you’re not just worried about your grandchild, you’re worried about your children and how they are coping. So being able to stay at the House and be near to them just takes all that worry away.”
Ross says supporting Ronald McDonald House South Island is a ‘no brainer’.
“Children are our legacy. Bonnie is only three and has the rest of her life ahead of her, that’s why it is so important to support facilities like this, so we can give kids the best start in life.”
Baby Frieda has grown up in our Christchurch House, cared for not only by her grandparents, but the many ‘aunties’ of the House who adore her chubby cheeks and infectious smile – she even celebrated her first birthday at the House.
After spending 152 nights (and counting) in our Christchurch House, the Hall family continue to take each day as it comes while Bonnie’s treatment continues.
Jane says our Christchurch House has enabled this family unit to be the best ‘pit crew’ little Bonnie could ask for.