ELLIE GREENWOOD was diagnosed with a form of liver cancer, when she was just 12 weeks old.
She was transferred from St James in Leeds to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where she began four months of intensive chemotherapy.
During this time the family from Rotherham stayed at The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ in Sheffield, Treetop House, and the family are now giving their full backing to the £1.2m appeal to build a second home at the hospital.
Ellie’s mum, Tracy, said: “It was a huge relief to stay at Treetop House as it meant that during her treatment I was able to be at the hospital 24/7.
“But it also meant I had somewhere to come back to after a long day on the ward and have meals and a good night’s sleep.
“Also, when Ellie was taking a break from the chemotherapy treatment, she was able to come to the house and be surrounded by a normal environment with comfy sofas and beds, a playroom and other families.
“It was something that resembled a real homely place which as a new mum I missed immensely – spending time with my baby in a ‘normal’ environment.’’
At the age of seven months, Ellie was transferred back to St James Hospital in Leeds where once again The Sick Children’s Trust supported the family with a room at its Leeds ‘Home from Home’, Eckersley House, for the three months Ellie was in hospital.
Tracy added: “I can’t imagine the financial implications we would have faced without the charity’s support. Seven months is such a long time to be away from home but it took a lot of the weight off our shoulders, financially and emotionally.
“The most important thing to me and my husband Antony during this experience was Ellie’s wellbeing and the charity gave us the gift of being able to spend time with her which was all we needed.
“During the seven months we spent away from home we were so grateful to The SCT for providing us with accommodation as this let us be together as a family at a very distressing time.
Seven years on, Tracy said: “Ellie is doing much better, looking at her you wouldn’t believe she went through so much at the start of her life.
“I will be forever grateful for The Sick Children’s Trust for their support.’’
Treetop House, run by The SCT, already provides somewhere to stay for families of children being treated at the hospital, but many more are turned away every year because there simply isn’t room.
A new ‘Home from Home’ is to be built through the conversion of two detached houses on the hospital site and initial estimates have set the Branching Out appeal target at £1.2m.
The houses, currently used as offices, will be joined to provide 11 family bedrooms, communal kitchen/dining area, lounge, playroom and laundry rooms.
A crucial part of the project will also see a corridor linking the houses to Critical Care in the main building.