Brave. Daring. Cheeky. Resilient.
These are just some of the words used to describe Tahlia by her mum Caitlin.
The Lee Steere family’s journey started when at the age of 3.5 years old, Tahlia began suffering from chronic fatigue, vomiting and a tiny sideway smile. Then on one fateful Easter Saturday, Tahlia woke up with a visible left-side facial droop. Caitlin immediately took her to their local hospital in Boyup Brook.
The hospital found that her left pupil was less responsive and recommended driving 3-hours to Perth for further assessment. When Caitlin, Paul (Dad) and Tahlia arrived at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) at 8.30 pm, Tahlia was taken through to receive the first of many CTs and was in surgery by midnight on Easter Sunday.
And so began the first of 477 nights and counting at Ronald McDonald House in Nedlands, Perth, WA.
Tahlia was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour attached to her optic nerve, and near her pituitary gland and brain stem, high-risk areas for surgical removal. Now 8, Tahlia has undergone three craniotomies, five rounds of chemotherapy and recently completed six weeks of radiation, all to stop the growth of the tumour.
In December 2022, Tahlia celebrated Christmas at RMHC WA after undergoing an operation to drain 15mm of fluid from the cyst, and another operation in January 2023 to drain a further 10-15mm of fluid to provide relief from headaches caused by the tumour.
When Tahlia and Caitlin stay at the House for long medical treatments, Paul and their two sons, Owen and Callum, make the journey to Perth during the holidays and weekends so they can all stay together. In fact, the family have eagerly awaited the Easter Bunny’s arrival at the House every Easter since 2019.
Mum Caitlin says,
‘The family are so welcomed, and the kids have always been looked after so well.
‘The support given by the wonderful people at RMHC WA and the ease of access to PCH are so important to us. We wouldn’t be staying at the House if we didn’t like it.’
It’s not just the little things that make a difference to the Lee Steere’s,
‘Not having to cook at night and now that Tahlia is a little older, being able to access the treadmill and she can play or attend the Learning Centre.’
But also the moments when they needed an extra shoulder to lean on.
‘One time, Tahlia was vomiting at night, and when we rang PCH, they advised us to come in to get monitored. A security guard walked us over and provided extra tissues to wipe her mouth after Tahlia had vomited. And financially, it would be really tough.’
Fast-forward to now, Tahlia is participating in a medical trial that started in May of this year and travels to Perth every fortnight for the treatment. So far, the treatment has resulted in the size of her tumour shrinking significantly.
Although this is incredible progress, it’s still a long road ahead for little Tahlia. The treatment will continue for the next 18 months and could stop working at any time.
RMHC WA has been the home away from home for Tahlia and her family for almost 5 years and will continue to be here for them as they navigate the next phase of Tahlia’s health journey.
It’s through your generosity that we can continue to support families like the Lee Steere’s when they need it most.