On Wednesday, 14 September, 2022, Simone Lambert rushed her daughter Charlie to Townsville Emergency after discovering a slight bulge on her upper left stomach, with a stubborn second day high 40-degree temperature and sore stomach. Due to the late hour, the emergency staff deemed their case not an emergency and admitted them to the Townsville Children’s ward where they were able to steal a couple of hours sleep.
The following day, in a room full of health professionals, Simone was told the worst news a parent could hear.
“Your daughter has a mass tumour, but we don’t know if it is cancer or not”.
These words transformed their reality into a living nightmare. With each day away from home and sat in countless hospital chairs, Charlie and Simone learned to place more and more trust in the professionals around them. Taking each day at a time, Simone came to understand what questions to ask, and what she needed to know to best help her daughter.
After arriving in Brisbane, Charlie continued to need more tests which resulted in her becoming fearful of the nurses, hiding away in the cupboards when she saw them coming. Simone began to grow more and more frustrated and heartbroken to stand and watch from the sidelines, tirelessly trying to comfort Charlie.
After numerous tests, Charlie’s doctor removed the tumour, weighing 1.4kg. A week later after the preliminary results, it was declared that Charlie had a Stage 1 Wilms Tumour. What followed next was countless trips to the hospital and numerous treatments to help Charlie. Far away from their home in Townsville, Charlie and Simone moved into their new home at Childhood Cancer Support accommodation in Herston, Brisbane for the next six months. Simone reported “it truly felt like a home away from home.” Walking into their one-bedroom self-contained unit, “felt [like] a sigh of relief.”
“Being a Friday when we moved in and no idea where any shops were, Childhood Cancer Support have a community room and fridges where Oz Harvest visit weekly and donated food is provided. A beautiful Welcome Pack tray was also provided and got us through with basics until we could go shopping.”
Over the next few months, Charlie underwent two surgeries, 13 treatments of chemotherapy, a blood transfusion and countless number of other invasive tests. Childhood Cancer Support acted as the much-needed haven proving essential housing and emotional support, providing weekly coffee and cake events and monthly BBQs as an opportunity for staff and other families to get together and support each other.
Since arriving back home in Townsville, Charlie is still required to fly back to Brisbane every six weeks for scans and tests. Childhood Cancer Support provides support by providing a patient transport service or providing taxi vouchers and comfortable short-term accommodation in Woolloongabba.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble, as they gave so freely their time beyond the work of their role to support the children and their families.”