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Then and Now: Millie-Rose Cowan

It’s been three years since Millie-Rose Cowan, mum Carole and brother Xavier from Dunedin last stepped foot into Ronald McDonald House South Island.

The House had been their home in 2016 and 2017 when Millie-Rose, then aged 3, was receiving treatment for Metastatic Neuroblastoma.

Now seven-years-old, the memories of what happened at the House are somewhat distant, but the people who helped her through the tough time are firmly engraved in her memory.

“I remember the craft room and doing crafts. Jan made me feel happy because she always had hugs and Kathy gave me lots of toys,” Millie-Rose says.

For Carol, the memory is a lot clearer.

“This place saved my soul,” she says.
“I wasn’t nervous about coming back at all. This was the homely part of our experience. It feels like home. Even now, just walking through your front doors and seeing smiling faces and people who just care so much, you guys made a difference and were our home.”

When the family left the House in 2017 after 332 nights, Carole says the transition back to normal life was difficult.

“The House was like a real security blanket, so there was a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, you had to learn to get used to not being around the House.”

Fast forward to 2020, and life is good for the family.

“Millie is at school full time now and has lots of school friends. Millie and Darcie (who met at Ronald McDonald House South Island) still see each other. Every time they go to Camp Quality, they share a room. They’re like siblings. They have a unique friendship. Cheryl (Darcie’s mum) and I catch up when we can. Life is really, really good now.”

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