Can you imagine spending all day, every day, in hospital for months at a time with your sick baby girl?
Baby Holly was just four-months-old when her parents were told she had leukaemia.
Holly was the Pannenburgs’ third child – their first girl. “She was perfect; healthy, strong and beautiful. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was”, says Holly’s Mum, Alice.
But when Alice and her husband, Mark, noticed dark blotches on her neck, their excitement turned into a nightmare.
Parents like Alice and Mark need support when their world is turned upside with their child’s cancer diagnosis.
Holly’s story is both uplifting and devastating. “She was unique, always smiling, brave and beautiful”, says Alice. For the Pannenburgs, sharing their story keeps Holly’s memory alive.
“I’ll never forget the moment we arrived at the Oncology Unit”, says Alice. “It was like an out-of-body experience. Everything around us just stopped, like we were in a bubble”.
“(Soon after), we got a phone call from the Childhood Cancer Association (CCA) team saying they’d like to come and see us.
“I remember feeling so overwhelmed”, says Alice. “But when we met them, all of a sudden, I was able to relax. It was like I had been really tense and then someone came in and said ‘we’re here to help you’ and I just signed thinking ‘thank goodness, someone is here – we don’t have to go and ask for help”.
The Childhood Cancer Association receives no government funding. We therefore rely solely on the generosity of the community to support families like the Pannenburgs so the CCA team are by their side to help navigate their way through the initial period of diagnosis.
Will you please send a gift today to ensure that same support is available for all children and families referred to CCA?
Alice was in the hospital with Holly for nearly seven months in total.
Mark would go in almost every day with their two sons, Jesse and Max, who at the time were only six and four.
“I missed my boys terribly. And, even though I was surrounded by doctors and nurses all the time, it was very isolating and lonely," says Alice.
“There were days when Mark wouldn’t be able to come in until later in the day but I’d get a phone call asking if I’d like a visit from CCA. So I knew that without fail, someone would come and visit me.
“Sometimes we wouldn’t even talk about hospital stuff, they’d just come and hang out”.
“Holly was unique. It was like she knew she didn’t have long and had to pack a lot in. She didn’t let anything stop her. She loved interacting with people and everyone on the ward loved her”.
But after seven months of treatment, Alice and Mark knew they were near the end. A bone marrow transplant was Holly’s only hope. They began preparing to move to Sydney, where the transplant would take place.
But Holly developed a cold and began to deteriorate.
And eventually, it was time to turn the machine off that was keeping Holly alive.
The CCA team was by the Pannenburgs’ side the whole time.
“Mark, the boys and I all had a chance to hold Holly before she died”, says Alice. “We sang her songs and she went to sleep in my arms”.
Holly would have celebrated her first birthday just three weeks later.
The loss of a child is undeniably one of the most difficult things a parent can face. Bereavement is a complex state, one in which many people find they need emotional, practical or even financial support for a long time after their loss.
Your generous gift today will ensure families like the Pannenburgs receive the vital support they need when their child is diagnosed with cancer, and beyond.
An extraordinary gift of making a regular, monthly donation will allow the Childhood Cancer Association to engage another trained professional as more children are referred to us, requiring support.
Thank you for giving generously today to support children like Holly, and families like the Pannenburgs. Receiving your gift by 31 December will ensure no family has to face their battle alone in the new year.
If you or your family require assistance please contact us today!
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The Childhood Cancer Association is a fully self-funded organisation and therefore relies on the generous support of the community.
Childhood cancer presents many challenges for the child and their family. It affects not only the child but their brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, friends and the whole community.
The Childhood Cancer Association provides support to the entire family.
Please help us make the cancer journey easier for these families!