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The McKinnon's Story

“Our family lives on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. Teresa is a stay at home mum to 3 boys Bayley (6-years-old), Corey and Archie (4-years-old), while Jamie works in PNG on a 16/12 roster – 16 days at work and at 12 days home.

On the 21st April 2014, Bayley was diagnosed with suspected Leukaemia. Jamie was at work in PNG and Teresa at home in Malanda. It was the Easter weekend and the end of school holidays, Bayley had been a bit flat, had a few bruises appearing in odd places, and complaining about feeling off. At 5.00am on Easter Monday morning, Teresa decided to take Bayley to the Atherton Hospital to get checked out. Little did she know that would be the last time she would see her home in months. We have now been away for just over 7 months.

At about 10.00am, lots of people appeared around our cubicle in the Emergency Department with various expressions on their faces. A doctor then informed Teresa that he suspected Bayley had Leukaemia had they we had to get him to Brisbane ASAP. Strangely, Teresa was not that surprised. Call it mother’s intuition – she had a gut feeling the previous night that something drastic would happen the following day, but nothing could prepare us for what was ahead.

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What followed was 3 hospital emergency departments, 3 ambulances rides and 1 RFDS plane ride – a total of 23 hrs in Emergency Departments, but this was just the beginning. Teresa remembers the looks nurses faces, ambulances officers, and pilots as they did their hand overs. It is a look that you can’t put into words, but holds so much meaning. She clearly remembers being physically and emotionally exhausted and sitting in the RCH emergency department, waiting to go upstairs to a ward. She remembers listening to the nurses chatting about how sad it was that a young child had cancer. Teresa listened to their chit chat for 5 very long hours.

When Bayley was airlifted to Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane Teresa travelled with him.  The twin boys were looked after by a neighbour as their dad Jamie was working in PNG at the time of diagnosis. The emotional impact that this had on all members of this family was enormous.  Distraught. Jamie flew home to the Tablelands to be with the twins and to organise things around the home. In an effort not to alarm the twins or create anxiety, Jamie waited 10 days before Teresa said that it was appropriate to bring the boys down to see their brother and mother. This decision was also made due to the fact that there was no family accommodation available in Brisbane and we needed to wait for appropriate accommodation to be allocated.  Teresa remained in hospital with Bayley.

We were then granted accommodation at Childhood Cancer Support where we are currently staying. It is a story we are still telling, as we continue to stay with CCS.”