Stacey and Mark Doolan trusted their instincts when it came to seeking treatment for their daughter, Ella, when a lump appeared on Ella’s ribcage after a fall in the playground.

“We rang the 13 Health line and they said if there was no redness not to worry about it. Well, I’m glad we went with our gut instinct,” Stacey says.

After scans and blood tests at Tweed Hospital, Ella was referred to a solid tumour
specialist at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. “Then our worst fears were confirmed;
she had stage four Rhabdomyosarcoma,” says Stacey. “It’s meant to be a rare cancer but in the time we’ve been there we’ve met lots of children with it.”

This was the start of the rollercoaster ride of 43 weeks of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation and a surgery to remove the tumour along with six centimetres from Ella’s fifth and sixth ribs.

In addition to this, Ella and her little brother have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a
rare hereditary disorder which increases susceptibility to cancer. “We’re at the hospital every three months for a scan, as that’s the best chance of catching
anything early,” says Stacey, who has had a double mastectomy because of the genetic

It’s this disruption to daily life that the Starlight Children’s Foundation aims to help families through, offering kids and teens with a wide range of illnesses and injuries support during the difficult time.

A Starlight Wish provides something positive to look forward to during treatment
and can really lift the spirits of the child and bring the entire family together.
Ella was delighted when her Starlight Wish for an outdoor play area was granted.

“I have so much fun playing on my fort and swings and I love to play outside. It is my own special place,” says Ella. “I spend as much time there as I can.”

“I think she was a bit overwhelmed because she went so quiet but as soon as
everybody left we could not get her off it!” Stacey adds. “It was dark and she did not want to come inside, she wanted to continue playing. She absolutely loves it.”

Ella also joined Lord Mayor Graham Quirk on stage to light the Brisbane City Christmas Tree last December. “She was so excited, she felt like a celebrity,” says Stacey. “She was telling everybody. It was lovely.”

Stacey and Mark thank Starlight donors from the bottom of their hearts for their
support. “The Starlight Foundation has been absolutely amazing for us.”

The Starlight Children’s Foundation has granted over 8,500 life-changing wishes for seriously ill children and teens across Australia. Visit: