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ISOLATION ISN’T NEW FOR OUR FAMILIES
The need to be in isolation or practising social distancing is new to most of us, but for many of our families that stay at Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney (RMHCS), it is a way of life. For children that are being treated for leukaemia, cancer, have had transplants or are living with cystic fibrosis, isolation is essential for their survival. A common cold can be life threatening, making the need for isolation no holiday at home. This week we spoke to Steve and his daughter Ashleigh who have been staying at RMHCS for more than 4 months, whilst their daughter and sister, 2-year-old Robyn (Bobbi) is receiving treatment for a brain tumour.
During Bobbi's treatment, which is a long and difficult road for little Bobbi and emotionally and physically draining for Steve and Ashleigh, they have been living away from home at Ronald McDonald House in Randwick, in one of their 4 isolation units (a small self-contained one-bedroom unit with a courtyard). During their stay they have taken the time to see the positives in what has bought them together. “More than anything, we have the time to enjoy each other’s company,” said Ashleigh. “I haven’t spent this much time with my dad since I was 15 as I was either working, studying or going out. Bobbi is such a good baby despite what she is going through and this experience has given us lots of quality time together that we might not have otherwise had. We have an influence on the development of Bobbi every day and all that she learns comes from us. When I’m cooking pasta, I give her a little pot and she puts the pasta, salt and a little bit of water in it and stirs it just like me.”
When I peeked in their unit there was a cubby house made of blankets and chairs and little Bobbi had her own mini dustpan and broom and wanted to help her dad with cleaning the house. “We have created our own routine. I take Bobbi for a walk in her pram as her illness means she is not strong enough to walk and I do a few handyman things here and there when Bobbi is sleeping,” said Steve. “Day sleeps with the baby are the best! I never had the time to do that at home. I’m also reading those books that have sat on my bookshelf for so long,” added Ashleigh.
When asked how they keep a 2-year-old entertained in a small area, Steve and Ashleigh said that they have gone back to learning and singing all of the nursery rhymes, play dress ups, look through photos and videos (like all 2 year-olds, Bobbi loves to see images of herself), paints their nails, dance around the house, build cubby houses, involve Bobbi in doing things around the house and just sit on the floor together and play.
This is not what they wanted for little Bobbi, but Steve and Ashleigh make the most of the situation they are in and look for the positives in the time that they get to spend with each other and Bobbi. We can all learn a little bit about the experiences that many families staying at Ronald McDonald House live with every day.
This is just one of many stories at RMHC Sydney. By donating to the Great Kindness Challenge you are doing a wonderful thing by supporting families like little Bobbi.