On 17th February 2018, Lucilia Soares arrived from Timor Leste, with her half-sister Santina, for treatment for a nasal phasogele carcinoma (throat tumour) at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (PMCC).
Lucilia had just turned 9 and had been receiving chemotherapy at the Dili General Hospital but now needed radiotherapy to stop the spread of the tumour.
On arrival, Lucilia and Santina, were welcomed by home hosts Robyn and Ken Dusting, D9810 ROMAC Chair Graeme Chester and ROMAC Timorese interpreter, Yulitta Owen. Things then quickly swung into action with Lucilia’s preadmission appointment at RCH on 19th February involving her supervising Oncologist, Dr Michael Sullivan (RCH), RCH Oncology Nurse Jayne Harrison, PMCC Dr Greg Wheeler and RCH Dr Julie Cayrol.
Follow-up medical checks and scans found that Lucilia required dental work (4 extractions and 2 caps), a chest infection requiring hospitalisation, and a neck brace fitted as the tumour had infiltrated and weakened two of her neck vertebrae. Finally, on 13th March, Lucilia commenced her radiotherapy at PMCC for 6 weeks, Mon-Fri. Interspersed, she had weekly appointments with Dr Sullivan, Dr Wheeler and Dr Michael Johnson, her RCH Orthopaedic specialist. 
Outside of her hospital visits, Lucilia continued to thrive under the love and care of Robyn and Ken and had many interesting experiences with their family and friends, their church (where she joined the choir), the beach, a farm, the Ballarat Wildlife Park, the Aquarium and the Melbourne Zoo. Robyn also included her into an ESL class she gives for refugees and Lucilia proved to be a quick learner. Also, as the Dustings had some previously arranged family commitments which took them out of Melbourne, she spent time with other host families Yulitta and Tref Owen, Margaret and John Mason (RC of Bentleigh Moorabbin) and Dianne and Bill Sides (RC of Clayton). To say the least, Lucilia was well cared for by her extended D9810 ROMAC family.
In late March, it became evident that Santina had family matters that were worrying her so ROMAC arranged for her to return to Dili and Lucilia’s mother, Carlota (now medically fit to travel), to come to Melbourne. Lucilia’s treatment continued and all was going well until 17th April when the expected side effects of the radiotherapy kicked in with extreme soreness of the throat and significant burns to the skin on her neck. She was hospitalised for treatment and released 4 days later after one last radiotherapy session. After subsequent scans, Dr Sullivan determined that she was disease free and, when her radiation burns healed, she would be cleared to return home.
On 7th May, Lucilia had her final medical appointments at RCH and was given clearance to return home. She will, however, have two more chemotherapy treatments in Dili and, to ensure that her vertebrae heal properly, her Orthopaedic specialist, Dr Johnson, requires her to wear her neck brace until December when she will return to RCH for scans to determine if the vertebrae have healed, or if surgery to fuse them is required. Continued on Page 5 ROMAC - Lucilia’s Story 5 Continued from Page 4 On 13th May, Lucilia and Carlota flew home. After 12 weeks with us, Lucilia returned home disease free and with a good prognosis for the ultimate repair of her neck vertebrae. She is an intelligent young girl and through ROMAC’s help she now has the prospect of a long and bright future. During the 2018/19 Rotary year, the D9810 ROMAC Team hosted three patients from Timor Leste (Patricio, Joana and Lucilia) for a total of 25 weeks. All returned home happy and well, due in no small way to the 24/7 commitment of our wonderful ROMAC volunteers and the dedicated medical staff of our Melbourne hospitals.