23 Feb WA’s Resilient Parents
Rebecca and Russell Pusey live in Geraldton, a 4.5 hour drive from Perth, with their daughters Willow, 12 and April, 16.
Russell is a Secondary Teacher and Rebecca is a Special Needs Education Assistant at local Geraldton schools.
In December 2019, Willow was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. A cancer that accounts for 40% of lymphoma cases in children and, more commonly in children 10 to 14 years.
For Rebecca and Russell the news came as a devastating shock. They could never have imagined their bright, effervescent daughter’s life affected by serious disease. “When we found out that we had to be in Perth for 6 to 12 months of medical treatment, that’s the saddest moment I had,” says Rebecca.
Because of the length of stay, Rebecca stayed with Willow in Perth for her treatment, while Russell and April stayed in Geraldton.
The pair had been staying at a hotel near Perth Children’s Hospital and was offered a place at Ronald McDonald House Charities Western Australia.
Willow’s hair started falling out 3 weeks into staying at the House.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Willow was still undergoing treatment. Regional border and Government restrictions meant April and Russell could not visit Rebecca and Willow for weeks.
“During our stay at RMHC WA, COVID-19 hit. For Willow and me, who had only just adjusted to life away from home at RMHC WA, it meant more changes for us. We were unable to have Russell and April come and visit due to border restrictions. We were on our own.
Resilience during this time meant for us that we had to be thankful that we had somewhere comfortable, caring and supportive to stay while Willow completed her treatment,” says Rebecca.
During the COVID-19 pandemic Ronald McDonald House was a home away from home for Rebecca and Willow. Despite being kms apart, Rebecca and Russell showed strength for each of their daughters during an especially difficult time.
On 20th May 2020, after 120 consecutive nights at Ronald McDonald House Charities WA, Rebecca and Willow returned home after receiving the ‘all clear’ that she was now in remission.