It’s been a little under a year since my great niece (Stevie) was diagnosed with cancer – she had a Wilms tumour which was successfully removed – along, unfortunately with a kidney. 

Cancer of any sort is a big thing for someone to deal with, but at the age of three it’s humungous – not only for the patient, but for the entire immediate family, with questions, doubts, self examination of whether there was something that could have been done to prevent it happening. 

Stevie – is now doing well, she’s been through rounds of chemotherapy, lost her beautiful blonde hair in the process – but that’s coming back, as is her sparkle. 

I’ve been involved in the charity sector for a number of years and was aware of the work undertaken by three charities that I have had involvement with over the years – Child Cancer Foundation, Starship Children’s Hospital (Starship Foundation) and Ronald McDonald House, all very important organisations in our community. 

Knowing that they were there to support my niece and her parents was a relief, I knew what they did, I’d read the stories, seen them in action – but, to be on the receiving end of their ‘services’ was an eye-opener. 

Families who have contact with these organisations are not just a number, they’re not an unknown – they are people, they all have names, and some how these three organisations remember ever persons name, not just the patient and immediate family, but the regular visitors too. 

The support offered by Child Cancer Foundation, both here in Auckland and in Stevie’s home town has been incredible, and no words can express my personal heart felt thanks to them for being there for them. 

Ronald McDonald House – the home away from home, is certainly that – and more, the staff who working in the house, whether doing administrative tasks, cleaning, servicing rooms – are all valuable to any family staying in the House. They make every person staying there feel special, they ensure they have everything needed. 

What can one say about Starship Children’s Hospital – other than – WOW – this isn’t a hospital in the normal sense of the word. There’s no sterile feel to the place, it’s a kids environment with pictures for and by kids lining the walls. The staff don’t talk baby to the children, they treat every person they come into contact with as an equal. Wish I could fib about my age if I need hospital care – I’d sooner stay at Starship than any other hospital. 

The next time you hear the buckets rattling, or you get a call for a donation to help any of these organisation – please give, you never know when you, or someone you know may need their help. 

Child Cancer Foundation, Starship Children’s Hospital and Starship Foundation and, Ronald McDonald House – thank you for being there for Stevie and all the other families your care for and about. 

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