House of healing for family
Dozens of regional families spent Christmas away from home with children being treated in metropolitan hospitals, but were lucky enough to have a place to celebrate the festive season in Perth.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities Western Australia provides free accommodation to families forced to temporarily relocate to the city with children diagnosed with serious and often lifethreatening illnesses.
Travelling away from home, friends and family is a challenge at the best of times, and doing so over Christmas is especially heartwrenching.
With this in mind, Ronald McDonald House decorated every floor of its Nedlands facility, putting up a Christmas tree and even organising a visit from Santa himself.
A spokeswoman confirmed families were also provided a traditional Christmas lunch, complete with a turkey, prepared by the chef, along with other surprises.
“Perth Airport kindly donated Christmas hampers for all the families, but families don’t know this,” she said.
One family, who have been staying at Ronald McDonald House since October, said the festive season had been rough, but still felt like Christmas at the house.
Geraldton mother Chelsea Cocking’s daughter Tahlea was admitted to Perth Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with the lifethreatening meningococcal virus, and was expected to remain there until May. “It’s been really hard,” she said. “We wanted to be back home with our family, but in saying that, being at Ronald McDonald House is so good; even though we’re not at home, it still felt like Christmas.”
Ms Cocking said in one sense, the house served as a home away from home and yet it was also much more than that.
“It’s a little community and turned into a big family, going through the same situation,” she said.
“We could all have a somewhat normal Christmas with new family around us.”
Without the free accommodation provided at the house, Ms Cocking’s three and five year olds would have had to be without her over Christmas.
The family will remain in the one-bedroom apartment — complete with a bathroom, double bed for Ms Cocking and her partner, and bunk bed for their other children — as her daughter continues to heal after losing her fingers and toes to the disease.
Geraldton resident Chelsea Cocking and daughter Tahlea after her diagnosis in October last year. Chelsea has been staying at Ronald McDonald House in Perth.