Family Stories

Danika’s story

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How is your day? It’s a question many of us ask daily. For most, it’s a mere formality. For Danika’s family, it’s a welcome check-in from a familiar face that knows their story.

Danika was four years old when an MRI revealed that she had a brain tumour the size of a golf ball. Two weeks later, she had surgery to remove the tumour, followed by another surgery eight weeks later. After that, her family relocated to Perth while she underwent three months of treatment.

It was a challenging time for the family. As her mum, Natasha, recalls, “We were juggling our older girls, who were living a normal life with their grandparents and still going to school, while our world came crashing down in Perth”.

This made the two-hour distance between family members feel even greater, but Natasha and her partner, Scott, couldn’t leave Danika’s side. Being together was their number one priority and staying at Ronald McDonald House Nedlands made that possible.

Instead of worrying about things they didn’t have the energy to think about – where they’d stay, how they’d pay or when they’d have time to shop for groceries – they were able to focus on what really mattered: caring for their daughter through every treatment and surgery.

Navigating childhood cancer can be a lonely experience for any family. So, having the support of other families and volunteers who understood what the Pitts were going through made all the difference.

As Natasha says about the family they shared a hospital room with, and who also stayed a few doors down from Danika’s family at the House, “they were there long-term as well, so our families would hang out. It was so nice for the kids and us to connect with another family that just got it.”

There are so many little moments like these that stick out in Natasha’s mind. Like the time they got home after a long day to find someone had hung up the laundry they’d forgotten about. Or the time a volunteer took it upon herself to source the cricket team Scorchers’ hats and sunscreen for the whole family ahead of their trip to watch the Scorchers’ game.

“It's all those little things that get you through those times and it just made life so much easier.”

Having this support really helped when Danika was missing her sisters. So, by the time the older girls were able to visit, the family could put all the medical stuff aside and enjoy ‘doing normal stuff’ together again.

It’s been nearly 18 months since Danika was diagnosed, and Natasha is looking forward to the day they can spend more family time together. Something she thought wouldn’t be possible without the support of everyone at RMHC.

“Having a familiar face who knows our story and can have a chat the moment we walk through that front door is really beautiful.”