Give hope to families fighting cancer this Christmas

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Every child deserves a Happy Christmas – especially those who are fighting against cancer.

Cancer asks more of anyone than they have to give.

Ella and her mum have both been dealt more heartache than anyone should have to bear.

Kerryn’s husband – Ella’s dad Mark – died in 2008 from a rare form of brain cancer when Ella was just a baby. Sadly, she’ll never know the sound of her father’s laugh or share Christmas with him.

If this wasn’t enough, while Kerryn was trying to keep their lives afloat through her grief, Ella was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2009. She wasn’t even two years old.

Can you imagine Kerryn’s terror? Cancer had taken her husband and now it wanted to take her little girl, too.

Kerryn felt the whole universe was against her. Ella was thrown into two years of intensive chemotherapy, spending more than half her young life receiving treatment for cancer.

“In April 2015 Ella finished chemo and the news was wonderful – the cancer was gone,” says Kerryn.

In November 2015, six months after finishing treatment, Ella began to suffer from headaches and blurred vision. Just as Kerryn was beginning to hope for remission, she received the phone call that parents of children with cancer dread – Ella had relapsed. Unable to access the specialised treatment Ella needed in their home state of Tasmania, Kerryn and Ella had to relocate to Melbourne, alone and frightened. Fight Cancer Foundation was able to offer them comfortable accommodation in one of our specialist accommodation centres close to Ella’s treating hospital.

This time around Ella was now eight years old and a bone marrow transplant was the only option. Without siblings and her mum not a match, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry was their last resort. Fortunately a donor was found. After three more months of chemotherapy, the transplant was carried out in March this year.

“The transplant was traumatic. Ella suffered multiple health complications and had to spend 100 days in isolation. Once she was able to leave the hospital, Ella moved in with me at Fight Cancer Foundation’s accommodation centre,” recalls Kerryn.

In desperation, Kerryn started a Facebook page to document Ella’s battle against “the beast”. It grew quickly with over 4,000 followers becoming a community that loves Ella and her mum.

It’s love and support that have been essential – even life-saving.

Kerryn and Ella received countless messages of support and hopefrom all over Australia. The community celebrated the wins and cried with Kerryn as she watched her little girl battle with “the beast”.

The steroids made Ella irritable and insatiably hungry. She was often in agony due to mouth ulcers – an awful side effect of chemo and Ella also lost all her hair.

After long, agonising months, Ella and her family were finally able to fly home.

“Last year we spent Christmas in our home-away-from-home with Fight Cancer Foundation. We are so looking forward to celebrating Christmas in our own home this year.”

The news for Ella is very encouraging. Meanwhile, her mum lives every day with a constant gnawing fear of the unknown. Every ache, every fever could be something more sinister…

Christmas is a time to give something back, especially to families who can’t celebrate in their own homes this year. If you can help your Christmas gift will mean the world to a family like Kerryn and Ella’s.