MY DAUGHTER was one of hundreds of local children treated at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital last year.
And thankfully, one of the lucky ones.
Lucky because she got to go home.
Sadly, there are so many kids who call the RCH home, and will for some time to come, while others tragically will never make it home.
Until Ayla had to go there last year for what doctors originally believed to be a thyroglossal cyst, we never had reason to go there.
It all came about after a student in Ayla’s class pointed out her larger than normal Adam’s apple.
And while it was more of an embarrassment than anything to my 12-year-old, we thought it was something we should get checked out.
And I am so glad we did. Because it turned out to be an ectopic thyroid.
When you’re born, your thyroid is supposed to drop down into your lower neck, where it produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate, as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood and bone maintenance.
For Ayla, some of her thyroid tissue was left behind in the upper neck region and unknowingly continued to grow.
It is quite a rare condition, occurring only in one per 100,000 people.
So we were sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital where over the course of six months, Ayla had various tests to check her thyroid was working properly and eventually surgery to remove the tissue.
Then the tissue had to be sent away to ensure no cancer cells were present. The longest few days of my life.
Through all of this, the medical care we received — from the surgeon who patiently explained the whole process, answered my 150 questions and carefully operated on my daughter to the nurses who looked after Ayla in Possum Ward overnight — was first class.
Watching your child going into surgery is heartbreaking. You are literally putting their life into doctors’ hands.
And while it may be routine for the surgeon, it is anything but for the families.
Of course our experience is nothing compared to what some families go through.
I have written about some of them during my career, visited them in hospital and saw many recovering post-surgery while Ayla was there.
And as hard as that is, knowing they are getting the best possible care in a world-class hospital makes you feel that little bit better.
That’s why it is so important to donate to this year’s RCH Good Friday Appeal.
The money raised goes towards ground-breaking research, buying life-saving equipment, providing ongoing education and training for hospital staff and focusing on family centred care.
You never think you’ll need it until you do.
I always support the Good Friday Appeal each year; madly searching through my handbag for some loose change or a $5 or $10 note when the tin rattlers come knocking on my window.
But this year will be different now I have actually seen firsthand what this hospital does for our kids.
And it deserves more than what I happen to have in my purse that day.
It has become a cause close to my heart. As hundreds of children spend Easter sick in hospital, I will get to enjoy the holiday with my girls.
And while I am dreading a repeat of last year when Ayla made herself ill after devouring too many chocolate eggs, it’s a sickness I can live with.
So when the collectors come knocking on Friday, dig deep.
Because it might just be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew who needs it this year.