A family has been given the means to look after their two-year-old daughter with cancer thanks to the good will of the community.
Zara Dykstra was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumour in the lower part of the brain, on December 9.
A givealittle page was started, which as of Tuesday had raised $15,114, and a fundraising golf tournament at the Foxton Golf Club collected about $37,000.
Mother Amanda Dykstra said the fundraiser showed the sheer number of people standing behind them, which gave them a boost to stand strong and support Zara.
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She said it was hard because all her and her husband Daniel Dykstra could do, was be there to support Zara’s emotional needs through the trauma of treatment
The money from the community gave them the financial means to be there and took away the pressure of bills.
“The community response has been amazing; we are so proud to be Foxton locals”.
Zara had just finished her second round of chemotherapy treatment. She had one more cycle to go before a scan would assess her progress against treating the cancer, with two more rounds and radiotherapy likely after that.
The goal was for treatment to be finished and for the family to be back at home in six months, if all went to plan.
She was diagnosed after a suspected ear infection was found to be a large brain tumour.
“Then they flew us to starship in the middle of the night,” Amanda Dykstra said.
Zara was put in the neurological high dependency unit because the tumour was so big she was considered at high risk of seizures.
Four days later she had neurosurgery.
“It was terrifying, but she came out really, really well.”
The family had been in Auckland for nine weeks and were staying at the Ronald McDonald House, which was on hospital grounds.
Amanda Dykstra said the treatment was relentless.
“We had no understanding of how intense cancer treatment could be.”
Zara has over 300 beads on her necklace, that represent all hospital-related treatment such as procedures, tests, surgeries and dressing changes.
Zara came home on Thursday for the first time since going to Starship. In between unplanned trips to Palmerston North hospital, she made it to the golf greens for a lap of the grounds.
Zara’s dad Daniel Dykstra used to take Zara down to the golf course on a Saturday.
She would sit with club members, eat chippies and play with little golf clubs on the practice greens.
Daniel Dykstra said he was proud of his friends from Foxton, who had gone out of their way to help.
“It’s a pretty good effort from the boys.”
He said it was nice to see Zara acting like a normal child again.
“She is doing well at the moment. [She] gets better and better by the day.”
Golf Club director of promotions Mark Hofman said about 230 people turned up to their fundraiser, with 170 competing in the golf tournament.
“The community’s support was overwhelming to be honest. It was emotional.”
Hofman was Daniel Dykstra’s golfing partner, and insisted on raising some money to help.
“It was fantastic. When we first started, we thought about $500 to help them out. It just grew naturally over the four weeks.”
Dozens of prizes were donated including a 50cc Yamaha motorbike, a signed Emirates Team NZ shirt, a signed Hurricanes Jersey and firewood.
People can donate to the family here .