When the Gray family’s youngest daughter, Tiana, was born in 2010, they knew little about RMHC® New Zealand, and had no idea that their newborn’s journey would mean they’d need the charity’s ongoing support.
Early on, parents Jo and Jamie noticed their baby daughter’s leg was bowed. After taking her to see a doctor, Tiana was diagnosed with a rare condition called Congenital Pseudoarthrosis of the Tibia. This meant that if her bone broke, it would be extremely difficult for it to heal with routine treatment and would require specialist surgery.
Tiana was only three months old – far too young to have surgery – when her tibia broke and refused to heal. The Feilding family had a long wait until their daughter was one and a half before they could travel to the National Children’s Hospital in Auckland for her surgery.
Jo and Jamie were relieved to discover they could stay in the home-like environment of Ronald McDonald House® just minutes away from the hospital while Tiana was having treatment.
However, their stay at Ronald McDonald House® was much longer than expected. When several surgical attempts to mend Tiana’s leg failed, Jo and Jamie were told there were no other medical options. They made the heartbreaking decision to have their daughter’s leg amputated at just age two.
“The House became our sanctuary away from the hospital while we were going through the worst time in our lives. We simply wouldn’t have coped without it,” says mum Jo.
Throughout the years, the Grays have met many families at the House and some have become their life-long friends. Jo says these friendships have really helped them through Tiana’s journey.
Now eight, Tiana has been in remission from cancer for five years. She is an adventurous young lady and has not let her medical journey hold her back one bit. Jo says the whole family loves going for walks together, and when Tiana gets tired from walking with her prosthetic leg, she jumps into her wheelchair and they all keep going.
The family continues to stay at Ronald McDonald House when Tiana has check ups for her cancer or treatment for her leg.
To pay it forward and support other families like theirs, the Grays are taking on the House to House challenge to raise funds for RMHC New Zealand. As a family, they are running, walking and cycling 210km over the month of March to raise at least $210 to support families staying with RMHC New Zealand.
For more information about House to House visit: www.housetohouse.org.nz