Mother of 5, Emma, has endured hardship that most of us could never imagine but has now found purpose in helping others.
“In August 2019 my 16 month old daughter was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma – Stage 4. I was in shock for weeks and this news felt like someone had died, but I still had a child who needed me to stay strong for her.”
It became impossible for Emma to continue working in her Aged Care role due the regular specialist appointments, different treatments, caring for her sick child Zaylee and the beyond stressful emotions that Emma was feeling. She resigned from her full-time role.
“It just wasn’t humanly possible to do everything I had to do. I couldn’t function. It was awful watching what kids with cancer have to go through. Our life was filled with hospital rooms, IV poles, chemo, radiation, stem cell therapy, major surgery and trips to different hospitals”
After 14 long months, Zaylee finished her treatment and was in remission.
“We got to ring the bell to state that she was cancer free! But even though we were so thankful that she was physically okay, the mental and emotional trauma was still there for me”
From this point, Emma was starting from scratch in her life again, for 14 months their whole life had revolved around cancer. She herself had changed because of this experience and didn’t want to go back into aged care or anything medical related.
“I was totally lost and had to find myself again. I used to work and play netball but I had a crippling fear that we’d get bad news again and that everything would be taken away again.
We were no longer surrounded by the supportive community we had at the Ronald McDonald house helping us get through each day”
Eventually her girls started school and Emma would sit at home not knowing what to do with herself. She felt like she needed a purpose again. It was at this point her mother had started volunteering at Church 4 Life Charities, sorting through boxes of toys and household items and packing them to send to people affected by poverty overseas.
“I went to visit mum one day while she was volunteering; She needed to focus on something other than cancer too, and she asked me to help. So, I did and I met Lesley and I got along with her really well.”
Emma started helping out with varied tasks like sorting and arranging the op shop furniture on the veranda, moving and unpacking donation trolleys, implementing new organisation strategies and found herself becoming a ‘Jack of all trades’.
“Lesley was so friendly and inviting towards me. They needed me and appreciated what I was doing. Finally I had found my purpose! Then a position became available as a supervisor, and I got it.”
Emma now gets to work with many different people who volunteer their time through community programs and Work Development Orders. She regularly shares her own story to new members of the team, encouraging them to keep taking small steps forward even when life is hard.
“The truth is that all of us are or have been broken at times, and I want them to know that they are not alone. My aim is to try and make each of them smile every day”
Church 4 Life Charities loves seeing lives radically changed through simply working with us. It is clear to see that Emma is in a much better place now and it is wonderful to see the positive impact that also has on her family, especially for little Zaylee.