In the blink of an eye, life for Harvey local Emily Houston and her family changed. After noticing slight changes in Emily’s behaviour and appearance, Emily’s parents booked a doctor’s appointment for a check-up.
Within 24 hours, Emily was rushed to Perth Children’s Hospital, where the family was informed of the devastating news that Emily had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
At just four years of age, Emily was set to take on the challenge of her life. With two and a half years of treatment, Emily and her family were required to move from their home of Harvey to Perth, first staying at the Ronald McDonald House accommodation and then at the Leukaemia Foundation apartments in Innaloo.
The Houston family adapted to life in the bustling city, with Emily’s sister Jessica enrolling into a new school and her parents taking extended leave from their jobs to support their daughters.
In July 2023, Emily hit an important milestone, receiving her last round of medication and ringing the victory bell. However, her journey continues with antibiotics, monthly blood tests and oncology reviews to ensure she stays on the path to recovery.
Following her final treatment, Emily was nominated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a little Telethon Star for 2023, finding out the exciting news that she had been selected as one of the final four stars by Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas.
Emily is revelling in her new found fame, rubbing shoulders with big names such as Nic Naitanui, Jimmy Barnes and Premier Hon. Roger Cook MLA.
As a little Telethon Star, Emily has undergone special superhero training, where she worked with her sister Jessica, Spiderman, Captain America, Scarlett Witch and Black Adam to save the hospital and oncology staff from supervillain Loki.
Emily has also joined fellow Telethon Stars Connor, Sophia and Harrison for some fun activities including a staycation at Crown Perth, mini-golf and a day as a staff member on a Qantas aircraft.
Now seven years of age, Emily and her family have returned to their home in Harvey. Emily and her family are regular visitors at the Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre, attending after school care, gymnastics classes and dance classes at the centre.
Emily’s mother Andrea thanked the staff at the centre, as well as teachers at Harvey Primary School and the wider Harvey community for the immense support they have provided Emily and the family.
“The Harvey community has been amazing, supporting us through this tough time”.
“Local businesses including the hairdressers, fish and chip shop and post office have all helped in some way or another, either through hosting fundraisers or accommodating our busy schedule”.
“Emily and Jessica also enjoy being back in our home town, returning to their local school and getting back into activities at the Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre”.
“We will be forever grateful for the overwhelming support we have and continue to receive”, Andrea said.
Andrea also acknowledged the efforts of the amazing oncology staff at the Perth Children’s Hospital.
“Thankfully, we were able to stay together as a family throughout Emily’s treatment”.
“Other families we have met were not as lucky and I can only imagine how difficult that could be”.
“We are grateful for the support of the oncology staff at the hospital, as well as the other families we met during our time in Perth”.
Emily also thanked everyone for their support and encouraged everyone to donate to Telethon on 21 and 22 October 2023.
Those who donate may also have an opportunity to speak to Emily and the other little Telethon Stars, who will be manning the phones on Sunday.
“Please call up and donate to Telethon because every cent matters”, Emily said.
Find out more about Telethon 2023.