When 11-year-old Anunta and her parents, — mum, Doungnead and dad, Anthony — arrived at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in February 2020 to have a bone cyst checked on her left leg, little did they know how their lives would be turned upside down so quickly. Having driven almost 100km to get to the hospital from their home in Lowood, Anunta and her family weren’t prepared for what was about to happen.
“The doctors told us that the cyst was actually a sarcoma and that it was confined to the ankle area of her left leg and that the best way to manage it was amputation prior to her undergoing her chemotherapy,” recalls Doungnead.
Over the course of the next week, Anunta was booked in for further scans, leaving Doungnead and Anthony with the difficult decision of where to stay during Anunta’s daily hospital visits. “We had no clothes, nowhere to stay, no relatives nearby and it was going to be too difficult to drive back and forth from home to the hospital every day,” said Anthony. “We also knew she would be having an operation to insert a central line for her chemotherapy before the amputation, which would mean she’d have to stay in hospital for a long period of time.”
Thankfully Ronald McDonald House was able to provide a room for the family — ensuring Anunta, Doungnead and Anthony could easily travel to the hospital for their appointments and were able to focus of all of their attention on her treatment. Following Anunta’s surgery on her leg, RMHC was there again to ensure the family remained together — just as lockdowns from COVID-19 came into effect.
“The staff at RMHC were so helpful and caring,” says Doungnead. “About a month after Anunta’s surgery, she was able to leave the hospital and start chemotherapy. She was in a wheelchair and we were given a bigger room which had its own kitchenette where we could cook Anunta food that she could enjoy and just be together as a family. Being in a place where everyone cares about you, and is there for you, was so special. It became our second home.”
Staying at Ronald McDonald House meant that when Anthony could return to work, he could do so knowing Anunta and Doungnead were safe and secure — and only a matter of minutes away from the hospital.
“It also took away a lot of stress and anxiety with regards to finances,” he says. “Before we were given the room at the South Brisbane House, I was looking at how we could afford to stay near the hospital – rentals, hotels, they were all so expensive and we wouldn’t have been able to do it. Having this place and the network of people who could look after Anunta and Doungnead while I was working, and all at no cost, was a massive relief for us all. We’re just so thankful, so grateful.”