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Sibling Strength

There are no sibling squabbles in this incredible family.

That’s because Lily (12) and Bella (7) have grown up fast this year, after their 3-year-old brother was diagnosed with a very rare and life-threatening
type of leukaemia.

Super Siblings: Sisters Bella (7) and Lily (12) have been a wonderful support for their brave little brother Ollie (3) as he battles a rare form of leukaemia.

While the family waits for a bone marrow transplant for their little fighter, Ollie’s family have found a ‘home away from home’ at our
Christchurch House.

In December last year, Wellington parents Jasmine and Troy were devastated to learn their son had cancer. “We just cried and cried,” recalls Jasmine. These parents knew something was wrong with their usually bubbling and bright son, when he was showing signs of fatigue and needing regular rests – even when kicking a ball around with dad.

Hospital staff acted quickly, sending Jasmine, Troy and Ollie on a Life Flight to Christchurch, where Ollie began an aggressive treatment regime. Away from home, with no family or friends nearby, and dealing with the reality of having a seriously ill child, Jasmine and Troy were overwhelmed.

But as soon as they stepped into our Christchurch House, Jasmine and Troy felt at ease.

I was a bit scared at first because I thought we would be surrounded by strangers, but it wasn’t like that at all,” says Jasmine. “We were welcomed with warmth by all the families and staff.”

Both Troy and Jasmine credit the other families in the House as being a true blessing, because they were all going through similar journeys. Neither parent can comprehend where they would be without Ronald McDonald House.

“I have no idea where we would have stayed,” says Jasmine. Having homely accommodation and home-cooked meals meant this family felt well-rested so they could be there for Ollie.

The blessing in the scary reality of Ollie’s illness is having their family together. The House has become a great source of distraction for Lily, Bella and Ollie – they love playing on the trampoline, baking in the kitchen and expressing their creative side in our art room. While Ollie is in hospital, Lily and Bella can relax at the House with their newfound friends, then greet their little brother with grins, cuddles and aroha when he returns. For a child going through treatment, this can be the best medicine of all.

Lily and Bella describe their little brother as sometimes ‘silly and giggly’. They say he has been ‘very brave’ throughout his treatment.

As the Vitale-King family takes each day as it comes, and wait to see the next step for Ollie, they are incredibly grateful to our Christchurch House for giving what they needed the most – each other.



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