26 Apr Stacey’s Story
When a child becomes sick or injured, things can move quickly. It can feel like there’s no time to ask what words like oncology actually mean, especially if you’ve been up all night in a hospital ward after being flown to your closest capital city for a diagnosis that you didn’t even know you needed; but turns out you did and now your hundreds of kilometers away from home, alone with your sick child.
Stacey gave birth to a seemingly healthy daughter Elaina, yes, there were the odd fevers and bruising, but she was vivacious and kept her on her toes, ‘she didn’t look sick’. As Elaina grew, Stacey landed a job at her local council in Geraldton and Elaina started going to daycare. Life was on track, and 2022 was going to be their year.
As the months went on, Elaina’s fevers and bruising became more apparent and were met with fatigue. A concerned Stacey took her daughter to the doctor after multiple consolations with ‘Doctor Google’ left her head spinning.
With that routine check by a real-life doctor, Elaina was given a clean bill of health, and the duo were on their way. Stacey, however, couldn’t shake a niggle in the back of her mind that something was wrong, but ‘she didn’t look sick’.
Fast forward a week, and with that niggle still there, Stacey received a phone call that Elaina needed to be picked up from daycare due to an unusually high temperature.
This was the moment when everything changed.
A trip straight to the doctor was followed by a rush to the Emergency Room which led to ‘an ambulance will take you to your RFDS flight; you’re leaving for Perth in an hour’.
But ‘she didn’t look sick’, Stacey kept thinking to herself as she flew from Geraldton to Perth, as she waited in the Emergency Room at Perth Children’s Hospital, as she sat by her daughter’s bed in the early hours of the morning.
With little information, no sleep and an empty stomach, Stacey was faced with these words, ‘it could be leukaemia.’
“I know you’re telling me it could be leukaemia, but no, not going to happen.”
Three hours later, doctors diagnosed Elaina with leukaemia.
Now what? Alone, Stacey didn’t have a crystal ball with all the answers. When a child is sick or injured, the unknown comes with so much more than their health and well-being. It’s laced with many adversities like job security, financial stability and, for parents living it, a sense of trepidation.
After ten days in the hospital ward, it was time for Stacey and Elaina to be discharged, only to be told that they needed to be within 60 km of Perth Children’s Hospital, despite it being so far away from home.
This was when yet another set of questions started flooding in. Where will we live, should I rent a house, how long will I need to sign a lease for, and how will I even cover the rent?
Stacey turned to RMHC WA for a place to stay as “it will only be for the next few months.”
Four hundred twenty-five nights later, Stacey and Elaina still call RMHC Nedlands their home away from home. For Stacey, being in a house filled with parents all searching for that crystal ball, it became clear that it’s so much more than a house for kids but a place for parents too.
It’s a place to talk or not talk, a place to laugh or cry, a place where you can just breathe and get the laundry done; even as a single mum, Stacey is never alone.
Stacey says that what gets her through and has gotten her through is not looking back at what was or forward to what might be, but it’s the here and now. By being present in the moment, she’s been able to be the best mum she knows how to be, all whilst navigating her way through a journey that is uncertain, complex and overwhelming.