Hard road made easier by facility

SHARE

Frans Duplessis’ eyes light up at the suggestion of a Ronald McDonald House in Dunedin.

“That would be awesome,” the 10-year-old says.

His delight at the idea has nothing to do with fast food.

Instead, he knows it would mean a comfortable bed, home-like surroundings and a warm base for his family to stay at while he receives treatment for cancer.

Frans, who attends St Gerard’s School in Alexandra, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia two years ago and has since endured countless hospital visits and rounds of chemotherapy.

The family still has 11 months to go before their regular trips to Dunedin stop and they can turn off the alarm reminding them each day that Frans’ next dose of chemo is due.

Frans’ medicinal routine includes oral chemotherapy each night and an extra type of chemotherapy once a week.

On Saturdays and Sundays he takes medication for his lungs and each month receives a dose of chemotherapy intravenously at Dunedin Hospital.

He also goes into theatre once every three months to have a form of chemotherapy injected into his spine.

This routine has been part of their lives ever since Frans showed signs of severe pain in one of his shoulders while on holiday.

Tests revealed signs of leukaemia, so he was sent to the Children’s Haematology Oncology Centre at Christchurch Hospital.

It was there that the family – his mother Nadia, father Dee and sister Nia (12) – discovered the benefits of Ronald McDonald House.

“The last thing we were thinking about was what are we going to eat and where are we going to sleep,” Mr Duplessis said, of their initial trip to Christchurch.

For the family the house was a lifeline.

“I would fundraise day and night to have that [in Dunedin],” Mrs Duplessis said.

“I think it’s a must-must-must for Dunedin.

“I wish the Government would help them, but we’ll fundraise,” she said.

The Duplessis family has already launched one fundraising venture, a mobile laser tag initiative.

“We could see a gap .. [to] go to a family living with cancer and give them an envelope with cash in it,” Mr Duplessis said.

Now they also have Ronald McDonald House in Dunedin on their fundraising radar.

A petition was presented to the Southern District Health Board late last year calling for one of the houses to be included in the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.

Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming said family accommodation was being considered, but no decision had yet been made as to what form it would take.

The Duplessis family is still keen to push the idea as a way to give back to the community.

Mr and Mrs Duplessis agree they cannot thank the community enough.

They hope they can, one day, repay every business, group, individual who had helped – and everyone between.

“The community has been awesome,” Mrs Duplessis said.

“We were always the givers, not the receivers. It kind of breaks you.

“How do you say ‘thank-you’?”

Mr Duplessis agreed.

“The word ‘thank-you’ doesn’t cut it.”