Skye Whiteman’s daughter Brydee has spent the majority of her 17 months on Earth fighting for her life, after she was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia a year ago this month.
While the road is far from over, with numerous tests still to come following a bone marrow transplant in March, Ms Whiteman and her family have finally received some good news with Brydee’s cancer now officially in remission.
“It was a very good feeling,” Ms Whiteman said of hearing the news last week.
“It didn't have the same sort of effect hearing it from a doctor, but once I said it out loud it was pretty emotional.”
Brydee’s treatment has meant Ms Whiteman has spent much of the past year travelling to Melbourne for medical appointments, and she has relied on the generosity of the community and the hospitality of Ronald McDonald House to make ends meet.
But with waiting lists for accommodation for families in similar situations often lengthy, Ms Whiteman welcomed yesterday’s announcement of the opening of the Leukaemia Foundation’s new Victorian Patient Accommodation Centre.
“There’s waiting lists for families that are in my situation, so the more help the better,” she said.
The partly state government funded centre in North Melbourne has been designed to provide a clean, safe and home-like environment, with 15 private family apartments and an onsite support centre with dedicated health professionals.
It also features an education and resources centre, a counselling room, a patient transport hub and a courtyard for patients and families to meet, relax and exercise.
Bendigo’s state MPs Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards said the centre would provide a much needed “home away from home” for other families in the region whose children required treatment for leukeamia.
“Parents with children receiving treatment for blood cancer have enough on their plate, they shouldn't have to worry about where they're staying as well,” Ms Allan said.
For now though, Ms Whiteman’s sights are set firmly on the future, with summer holiday plans with Brydee and the rest of her family already in place.
“We’re looking forward to going to Adventure Park in Geelong in the summertime and for the first time taking Brydee to the pool,” she said.
“I know she’s a water baby so I think she’ll really enjoy that.”
Finally, Ms Whiteman expressed her gratitude to the many community members who have lent a hand throughout Brydee’s treatment.
“Thanks to everyone for their donations over the past year, they’ve really helped,” she said.