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Making a lonely experience more bearable: Wandina family sings praises of children’s charity

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Rebecca Pusey with daughter Willow, 13.
Camera IconRebecca Pusey with daughter Willow, 13.

Rebecca Pusey barely ate anything for a week when her then 11-year-old daughter Willow was diagnosed with a rare cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“It’s the news no parent ever wants to get,” Ms Pusey told The Guardian.

“I just felt sick and numb — it was a horrible time.”

Early last year the Wandina family were told they had about 24 hours to get their affairs in order, pack enough clothes for four months and get Willow down to Perth for treatment.

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Ms Pusey and Willow originally planned to stay in a hotel room, but social workers at the Perth Children’s Hospital recommended they look into options at Ronald McDonald House.

The charity group helps Australian families of seriously ill and injured children to stay free-of-charge in purpose-built accommodation across the road from PCH.

“Willow needed to be an hour away from the hospital at all times because if she spiked with a temperature of 38 degrees then she would have to go straight to the emergency department,” Ms Pusey said.

“It was ideal to be across the road because one night she did have a temperature and I just walked straight across the road and she was admitted.”

Ms Pusey, who had to quit her job as an education assistant to take care of Willow full-time, said the family could have gone broke if it wasn’t for Ronald McDonald House.

Husband Russell said he would have had to look at permanently moving to Perth and starting a new job.

“We went from two incomes to one,” Mr Pusey said.

“We would have been heavily in debt.

“With Ronald McDonald House, two meals a day are covered, sometimes three. The assistance from that makes all the difference.”

After 120 consecutive nights staying in Perth, Ms Pusey and Willow returned to Geraldton following the fantastic news she was in remission.

Reflecting back on the whirlwind experience, the Puseys just consider themselves lucky.

“We at least had an end date,” Mr Pusey said.

“We know families who are still staying at Ronald McDonald House, who were there when we were. All those little extra things they do make a painful experience and a very lonely experience more bearable.”

This Saturday marks 30 years of McHappy Day, an annual fundraiser which raises funds for Ronald McDonald House.

To donate visit www.rmhc.org.au/mchappyday.

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