A Springfield family of five is looking forward to a return to normalcy after a sudden diagnosis uprooted their lives two years ago.
Since then, the Leembruggens – Rachel and Josh, along with sons Nate, 6, Jack, 4, and Zane, 3 – have in many ways put their lives on hold.
In December, 2020, Nate was diagnosed with leukaemia and promptly began a 25-month-long chemotherapy treatment program.
But things are finally looking brighter for the family, with Nate’s treatment nearing its end in February next year.
“We are exhausted, but the end is in sight, and we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rachel Leembruggen said.
“We\’ve completed 20 months of chemotherapy and we\’ve got five months to go! We are planning a big party!”
She said Nate is enjoying being at a stage in his treatment where he can happily go to school and start to live a relatively normal childhood again.
“People have been incredibly generous and really rallied around our family which we are so appreciative of!”
“The staff and medical team at the Queensland Children\’s Hospital have been amazing but it does make things difficult being 30-50 minutes (traffic pending) away from an emergency department.”
“We are so glad one is being built in Springfield – although hopefully we won\’t need it in the future!”
Light the Night, 2022
September 30 was the Leukaemia Foundation’s “Light the Night” celebration, for which affected families are invited to light lanterns to represent their cancer journeys.
In the lead-up to the event, Rachel said she and Nate would be joining in on the activity to stand together, show support, and share hope with other families that have been facing a blood cancer diagnosis.
“My son Nate will light his white lantern to represent his own blood cancer journey and I\’ll light my blue lantern to show support for those affected.
“This year we aren\’t raising money – simply awareness – which in itself is a powerful thing as an early diagnosis before cancer has spread can save someone\’s life.”
“Awareness also helps people know how to support other people in their contacts who are battling a cancer diagnosis in their family.”
On average, 750 Australian children are diagnosed with cancer every year, according to Cancer Council statistics.
Rachel said it had been particularly hard for the family to juggle their availability for Nate’s chemotherapy requirements, while also limiting exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses while his immunity is suppressed.
The challenging situation forced her to temporarily shelve her home-gardening not-for-profit, Plot Australia.
Rachel began Plot Australia in late 2016, after leaving her Natural Areas Management job to look after her then-newborn Nate.
At first it was a hobby, but later grew into a small business, she explained.
“I wanted to feed our family with food I’d grown and to show him the wonder of plants like my Grandmother did with me. It was a passion I wanted to indulge while I was staying home with my baby and had more time.”
Meanwhile, she has been sharing a few snippets of their ‘Plot’ of land via social media.
“That\’s what Plot Australia started as, anyway: my kids and I, in our garden.”
For more information, visit the Cancer Council website at www.cancer.org.au.
For more information about Plot Australia, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theplotaustralia.