Tahlia's Home Away From Home 

Date: 19 August 2021

Tahlia is one of over 75 regional youth cancer patients supported by Sony Foundation’s You Can Stay program, providing over 3,900 nights of accommodation in its first year. This is her story:

I am sure you have all heard someone use the often overquoted phrases, 'we never know what's around the corner' or ‘it won’t happen to us’ however, this couldn't be truer for me.

Prior to February 2020, I was just a normal 15-year-old at St Joseph’s College in Toowoomba, I loved being outdoors, and going on adventures with my family, hanging out with my friends, listening to music, and I loved going to school each day. I aspired to pursue medicine when I left high school and my dream job was to become a paediatrician. At this present moment, none of those things have changed, and if it wasn’t for my lack of hair, nobody would think any different of me. Unfortunately for me, hair loss does symbolise that I am one of the many teenagers who have been diagnosed with cancer.

My cancer was a rare carcinoid tumour in my lung. To date, I have had a biopsy/bronchoscopy, one surgery in March 2020 to remove the tumour and consequently 2/3 of my right lung, another surgery over the Christmas period in December 2020 to remove the tumour that had unfortunately grown back and then three months of chemo every three weeks, which started in February this year and ended in May. It has been a long journey, many tears have been shed, much pain has been endured but overall, I have come out the end a much stronger person than I started.

Chemo is one of those things in life that can simply not be explained, I still have not been able to put words to what I went through, and I don’t think I ever will. However, through all this hardship, there was silver linings. I recall one night at the Quest Hotel after a long day of chemo, I was sitting in bed, computer on my lap, sick bag in one hand, textbook in the other. I didn’t feel sad, but instead ever so grateful that I was able to have a break from the walls of the hospital and continue to do things that made me happy. 

Being away from home, school, and my family and friends made treatment even worse than it already was…However, every Sunday before my chemo week, my family & I would travel 100km to Brisbane, and arrive at the Quest Hotel, which began to feel like home. Some people might argue that a hotel could never replace your own bed in your own room, in your own house. But I would say that the hotel quickly became my new normal, it was my newfound home away from home, a familiarity, a calm in the storm. While it wasn’t an ideal situation to be in, it was an ideal place to stay during my treatment.

Before I was diagnosed, I had no idea of the wonderful work the Sony Foundation were doing in the wings to help families like mine affected by cancer, through the You Can Stay Program. I know that nobody does this kind of work for recognition, but I believe this Foundation deserves to be centre stage with other charities associated with the fight of cancer.

Sony Foundation were there for my family when we needed them the most. I'd already spent weeks in hospital, my parents had exhausted their savings, used up their sick leave & would have been left with no other choice but endure financial hardship to stay close to the hospital & be by my side during treatment. With the You Can stay program; our family was free of the extra monetary stress and we were able to be together. After the long days in hospital, the assurance of going back to a hot shower and comfy bed is enough to keep you going until the next day. I will forever be grateful for the Sony Foundation, and the You Can Stay Program in partnership with the Quest Hotel. I hope that hearing my story has shed light on how important this program is and to remember “you never know what is around the corner”.

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