Have you ever had an experience that changes everything? That makes you realise work deadlines, debates over money and family politics might not be all that important? Kate has…

A year ago, my world was turned upside when my husband Joel and I were told the devastating news by doctors at the Monash Children’s Hospital that our baby, Harvey, had cancer. These are words that you never want to hear at any point in your life let alone about your innocent, smiley two-year-old little boy.

Thankfully, Harvey is too young to remember this day, but it will be permanently tattooed on mine and my husband’s memory.

Seeing our baby in so much pain with endless prodding and poking was nothing short of heartbreaking. It’s been a long, emotional roller coaster of a year and thankfully we now have the most intensive part of treatment behind us. However, there are still years of treatment ahead of us. 

Harvey is one of three boys who are all very active. Over the years, we have had a number of visits to emergency so the hospital environment didn’t phase us.

However, I’ve never been a fan of seeing any of our boys go under general anaesthetic. Having to endure this on an regular basis with Harvey, along with everything else that goes with his treatment, is hard to put in to words how this makes us feel.

Thankfully, we have an amazing team of doctors and nurses at Monash Children’s Hospital who we entrust in and are confident they are doing everything they can to ensure that our little guy is cured of leukaemia.

But to get to this point, Harvey has to endure continued prodding and poking for the next couple of years. To date, he has dealt with more than anyone should in their lifetime, including:

124 hospital days
68 hospital nights
More than 140 blood tests (1/2 of them fingerpricks)
13 lumbar punctures
12 blood/platelet transfusions
4 bone marrow tests
16 injections in his thigh
83 days without walking
7000 km of hospital trips
1 ambulance ride

To add to that, Harvey spent Christmas Day and his 3rd birthday in hospital, as well as missing out of normal kid stuff and celebrations/events/holidays for most of the last year.

However, while Harvey has a team of people looking out for him, his brothers have just my husband and I. Like with any family situation, it’s a case of juggling to the best of your ability at the time.

We have tried, where possible, to include the boys in Harvey’s journey but also try to keep their lives as ‘normal’ as possible and make sure they are feeling our full love and support. They have had to get used to things being cancelled at the last minute, waking up to find that Harvey has disappeared over night and taken to hospital indefinitely. They have also learnt our new ‘normal’ revolves around our home away from home (aka Monash Children’s Hospital). Something that young kids don’t naturally find easy to understand.

But I am very much a glass half full person and can usually find the positive in situations. Out of this journey we have learned to take time out for each other and enjoy every moment we can as a family. Be more present. Gratitude is a daily ritual.

We have been inundated with kindness, love and support from friends and family near and far. For which we are truly, truly grateful. We are eternally grateful to live to close to such an amazing hospital facility.

Through our time at Monash Children’s Hospital, we have met some truly amazing and inspirational families on their own journeys and all with their own ups and downs. We are grateful to have been welcomed into and be part of such a beautiful and supportive community.

But best of all, we have our very own Mighty Man with all his glory. His resilience is phenomenal and he has taught us so many things. Nothing beats seeing his face light up and him dance around the room like any other three-year-old at the end of a tough day. Mighty Man, you truly are my hero. Together, we will beat cancer.

Onwards and Upwards. xxx

Kate Gniel 


We were thrilled when the Monash Health Foundation approached us to ask if we would be happy to be part of their annual Christmas appeal. We hope that by sharing Harvey’s story it will help raise awareness of this amazing medical facility and encourage people to dig deep and give generously this festive season.

By supporting the annual hospital appeal, you can imagine a healthier future for sick children (and adults), like Harvey.

The appeal, encourages donors to purchase a special imagination star that will be hung on a Christmas Tree at a Monash hospital of your choice.

In return, you will receive a star to hang on you tree to remind you that ‘Imagination is the best medicine’.

There are blue, siver and gold stars available ranging from $15-$50 each. Every little helps.

To find out more about the Christmas appeal or to purchase your very own imagination star, please visit Imagination Star.

Together we can make a difference and imagine a healthier future for the ones we love.

More information: monashchildrenshospital.org/christmas-appeal