Friday, November 13, 2009

An open letter of thanks

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role in providing public relations services for McDonald's, is the opportunity to promote the work of Ronald McDonald House.

Over the past decade I've worked with some amazing people across Victoria, Tasmania and now Western Australia and have come across some of the bravest families you could ever hope to meet.

I think the letter we received this week (see below) really puts into perspective just how critical the role of Ronald McDonald House is in providing a home away from home for families who are facing what is potentially the most challenging period of their lives.

Please take the time to read this through and then think about what you can do tomorrow on McHappy Day, Saturday 14 November, to make a difference.

Dear Mr Creasey,

On Saturday night myself and my partner Clayton had the wonderful pleasure of attending the Ronald McDonald House Charity Ball.

Clayton, myself and another family "The Rossi's" Jason and Laura were invited as guests of the Cerebos Group who provided us with tickets. This was arranged through the Ronald McDonald House as ourselves and the Rossi's have for a while called The House "home" over the last year or two.

This time last year Clayton and I were two very tired and scared parents dealing with having a new born son who was battling a cancer called Nueroblastoma. We had already been in Perth for a month before Eddie's birth in August 08 as doctors were suspicious of a lump that was previously believed to be cyst.

We were down from Port Hedland having our last holiday before becoming parents when life changed suddenly and completely unexpectedly.

As the lump was growing we were advised not to leave the metro area and we had to make do with our suitcase of clothes until Clayton could return to Hedland to get all the things we had up there for the birth of our baby. Eddie was born on the seventh of August and was taken to Princess Margaret the following day by infant ambulance and placed in Neo Natal intensive care. We were totally unprepared for this turn of events as doctors were positive that once born, the "lump" would not be a problem.

Unfortunately the lump was so large it had pushed Eddie's stomach shut and he was unable to ingest anything at all. After a few days of endless talks with doctors and surgeons an oncologist visited us with the news that she had heard about Eddie and would like to review him as she was certain that he might have a cancer called Neuroblastoma.

Her suspicions were correct and after many tests and meetings Eddie was scheduled for surgery with the hope that the tumour could be removed. Removal was successful but following surgery the cancer spread to Eddie's liver causing many complications and the only alternative was chemotherapy, a path both us and our oncologist had hope to avoid.

So at seven weeks of age, Eddie began treatment and we moved into the Ronald McDonald House.

I cannot stress enough the role The House played in us dealing with such an emotional time. There are many words you can use to explain how you feel when you watch your child fight the battle of his life. Tired, lonely, scared and dealing with the feeling of our lack of control over his health, we were overcome with gratitude and emotion at being welcomed into the house with open arms by the staff and other parents.

We were already exhausted from the ordeal of the last two and a half months, a fact noticed by our social worker who told us to accept some help and get ourselves to the House as we had been living out of suitcases at the hospital for weeks.

The friendships formed and the tears shared at the House all help with the healing you need as a parent. There is nothing like the joy of celebrating with other parents when they receive good news and nothing like sharing a hug when it is bad.

Fortunately at five months of age, Eddie was deemed fit and well to finally go home. There were tears of joy and tears of sadness at leaving the House and the friends we had made, many of whom are now at home with their healthy children.

We still use the house a lot as Eddie will have a follow up program until he is 18 and it is a joy to know that when we fly down to Perth and you are coiled up inside with the fear of a bad test result that at least you have the sanctuary of the house for your time down there.

It is on that note that I would like to thank everyone involved with the ball from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful job done on Saturday night. I was truly overwhelmed sitting at our table watching people bid way over the value on the auction items. Both Laura and I got a little teary knowing that the huge part the House plays in our lives was made possible by the generosity of these people.

One of the most amazing experiences of our cancer journey with Eddie was coming face to face with some of the most giving, amazing, compassionate people we have ever had the pleasure of being involved with, and Saturday night reminded us that Perth and Western Australia is filled with the most amazing giving people.

You guys should be proud of yourselves for showcasing that(and that huge $700,000 raised).

So now we are back in Hedland boasting to our friends about our glamorous night on the Silk Road with the divine food and of course that fantastic band. And I would like to say on behalf of any family who has ever had the experience of the sanctuary provided by the Ronald McDonald House a big thank you and all the best for next year's ball.

Yours Sincerely
Dannielle Aggiss

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have also had the good fortune to see first hand the work done by this charity. Some may call it a jaded view given that I once worked behind the Golden Arches, but I can say that the charity is, without question, a fabuolous testiment to those involved.