An Aberglasslyn family has received the shock of their lives after the Today Show turned up to award them $20,000 to help pay for expensive medical treatments.
Christine Thomson contacted the Channel Nine show regarding her granddaughter Isabella Ellis who is battling life threatening allergies. Even being near eggs, dairy or nuts could be fatal for the 10-year-old.
In hope for a better life, Isabella and her family will travel to the United States in April to take part in oral immunotherapy treatment, the only one of its kind in the world.
Reporters from the Today Show showed up on the Ellis’s doorstep on Tuesday to award them the $10,000 Knock of Cash prize to help the family in their plight to treat Isabella.
But as a second surprise, Christine, who is battling stage four melanoma, was also given $10,000 towards her cancer treatment. Christine had to sell her house and currently lives in a caravan to be close to her oncologist.
“It was a good shock,” Christine’s son and Isabella’s dad Matt said on Tuesday. “Today’s been a bit crazy.”
Matt, who works as a police officer at Cessnock PCYC, said the money given to his mother would help not only with her treatments, but also to visit the family in the US.
“Because of Isabella’s allergies we’ve got a no touch rule, so mum’s looking forward to giving her granddaughter a big hug,” Matt said.
The family has had to endure strict conditions for many years. Isabella was diagnosed at eight months old, and has to have an Epipen at arm’s reach at all times.
“It’s full on,” Matt said. “Even an opened packet of peanuts can cause a reaction.
“There are things that come with the allergies too – isolation and anxiety.
“It is upsetting to see your child frozen with fear at the sight of food being consumed in her near vicinity. She does get frustrated sometimes, but she handles it really well.”
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The treatment will take between six and eight months, and aims to slowly introduce Isabella to the allergen and eventually allow her to consume it.
While excited by the prospect of being able to eat without fear, Matt said it is also quite daunting for his young daughter.
“She’s nervous, we’re telling her to take stuff that could kill her,” he said.
But the family will have the support of a handful of other sufferers who are also travelling to the US for the same treatment.
“We’ll be able to support each other through this crazy time,” he said.
Because the Ellis family will be on a medical visa, they are not able to work in the US. To assist with the financial burden, they’ve set up a GoFundMe page.
“We are not ones to ask for help but when it comes to our daughter and her life, we will do whatever we can to help her,” Matt wrote on the page. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/life-threatening-food-allergy-fight.