House of heal­ing for fam­ily

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Ison

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.

Pic­ture: Mo­gens Jo­hansen

Ger­ald­ton res­i­dent Chelsea Cock­ing and daugh­ter Tahlea af­ter her di­ag­no­sis in Oc­to­ber last year. Chelsea has been stay­ing at Ron­ald McDonald House in Perth.

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