A little bit about Fiona and the incredible work she does.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Fiona Dooley, and I am a single mum to 3 gorgeous children Oscar 17, Claudia 16 & Sophia 12. I work part-time as a Para Legal. I have lived in the Southern Highlands for seven years and love my life in the country with my children.
How did you hear about Rare Cancers Australia?
My boss gave me a Rare Cancers business card not long after Oscar received his diagnosis.
Tell us about Oscar.
Oscar was born the 19th of December 2001; I brought him home from hospital on Christmas Eve. Oscar is a student at Chevalier College; he is the type of person that brings all walks of life together. Oscar loves basketball; he is very passionate about the game. He would like to one day be involved in the NBA as a player agent. Oscar is very courageous, caring, kind, funny selfless man who never thinks of himself before others. He is a respectful student, beautiful friend, protective older brother, encouraging team player and a dream come true for me, a loving son. He has been such an easy son to bring up; he is close to perfect in my eyes.
On 19th February 2019, Oscar was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
What supports did you lean on during treatment?
The Social Worker at the hospital, Oscar’s school Chevalier College, Redkite, Canteen, The Leukaemia Foundation and Rare Cancers Australia.
What causes you the most anxiety now that Oscar is in remission?
While Oscar has an excellent prognosis, the protocol and treatment for ALL is very long and gruelling. Oscar had to take steroids, and there were many adverse side effects, this causes anxiety. Then I have to worry about things like making sure my daughters are okay while I take Oscar to the hospital. Then there are the thoughts into the next month, and years to come for Oscar that come and go from my mind. I cannot understand why there is not a cure for cancer. No cure for cancer causes me the most anxiety and anger.
What gaps are there for parents/carers of oncology parents in terms of supports and information?
Too many to list. I consider Oscar and myself one of the lucky families as we could go outside the hospital for help. If it weren't for the Patient Care Team at Rare Cancers Australia, I would not have received the Carers Allowance. I am also lucky enough to have accommodation to stay in Sydney. Ronald McDonald House is excellent, but it is only temporary. The long drive in traffic for someone who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia can be very trying. I will be forever grateful to Professor Glenn Marshall for accepting Oscar as a patient at the Sydney Children’s Hospital. Once a child turns 16, they are considered an adult in the public hospital system. Oscar became unwell just as he was starting year 12. If he were not treated at the Children’s hospital, he would not have the extra support of the teachers and support staff from Ronald McDonald House to help him with his studies. I suggest people ask as many questions as possible, and to ask for help, to advocate for your loved one. I must be his voice and do all I can.
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