MCH School student aces ATAR

When Rhiannon Mutch saw her ATAR result for the first time, she said the sound that came out of her mouth wasn’t human.

“It was insane; it was surreal. I saw it with my mum and sister, and it was just crazy. It didn’t even feel real at first.”

After sitting her exams at Monash Children’s Hospital School, Rhiannon was rewarded with a fantastic ATAR result in the 90’s that not only shocked her but made her incredibly proud of herself.

“I was expecting to get an ATAR in the 80’s and to open it up and see a nine instead was crazy. It took a day for it to sink in!”

Rhiannon attended a local high school, and after being diagnosed with a rare blood disease, she was assisted by Monash Children’s Hospital School to ensure she had health provisions and help in place.

Through the help of the teachers at MCH School, Rhiannon completed her schooling at her high school, something that meant a lot to Rhiannon.

“It was a bit of struggle. I missed out on around 50 days of school because of my health and appointments. The teachers at MCH helped me get so many special provisions, considerations and helped communicate to my school about my ever-changing health status.”

With assistance from Monash Children’s Hospital School, Rhiannon was able to sit her General Achievement Test (GAT) at Monash Children’s Hospital and said the experience was extremely rewarding.

“I found it was a really positive environment because everyone knows what is going on with your health, so when I was doing my GAT exam there, it was really good because they would encourage you to take your rest breaks and check in on you to make sure you were okay.”

After her positive experience with the GAT exam, Rhiannon requested to do the remainder of her VCE exams at the MCH school, which was granted.

“I really enjoyed doing my exams at Monash Children’s Hospital School. It was just a good calm environment where everyone understands what’s happening”.

Rhiannon’s outstanding ATAR result is a testament to her determination and resilience while managing a health diagnosis and also the effects that COVID-19 had on her schooling.

“It was really hard at times, but it was my support systems that got me through it. It was a combination of my family, friends, doctors and nurses and all my teachers who supported me through it. I definitely couldn’t have done it without any of them.”

Rhiannon has been a patient at Monash Children’s Hospital since 2019 and was diagnosed at the beginning of 2021 with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH), a rare blood disease that causes her bone marrow to make defective cells. Rhiannon began treatment for PNH in June of this year and said the treatment has helped tremendously.

“It’s been a long journey. PNH makes me fatigued, gives me aches and pains, headaches, migraines, abdominal pain, and bad flare-ups that last for days or weeks and leave me bed-bound. But the treatment has helped a lot”.

Rhiannon visits Monash Children’s Hospital Cancer Centre every two weeks, receiving infusions. With the treatments taking between 5-6 hours, Rhiannon spends the day at the hospital.

“To me, the regular visits are nothing. If it makes me feel normal and healthy, of course, I’ll come in every two weeks. I honestly have no idea what day of the week it is until it’s time to go to the hospital; I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s a Wednesday!’”.

Rhiannon’s journey to receiving this diagnosis has been long and tiresome, and a challenging time in her life, but she welcomes her recent diagnosis as it has allowed her to finally receive the treatment she needs.

“It was a good thing in my eyes to be diagnosed. Before, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However, my recent diagnosis of PNH was a really positive thing for me because it meant I finally had something that they could see that was wrong and that can be treated.”

Rhiannon has been able to receive treatment for PNH due to the dedication of medical practitioners at MCH, who advocated for her to access her costly treatment through government funding.

When Rhiannon’s case was initially rejected for funding, her doctors worked hard to ensure she had access until she was finally approved.

“This is a massive credit to Monash Health because my doctors really fought for me, and if they didn’t advocate for me as hard as they did, I wouldn’t currently be receiving this life saving and changing treatment.”

With VCE exams and high school now over, Rhiannon is looking forward to some relaxing time off.

“Now that everything is done and finalised, and I know I am guaranteed into my course, it’s nice that I can finally relax. It’s strange. It’s like the first time I can be a normal teenager because I’ve been so sick for so many years, and now my treatment is working, and I’m done with high school. I can finally be like a normal person.”

Rhiannon has recently accepted an offer to attend university in Queensland this year, where she plans to study a Bachelor of Health Sciences with the end goal of studying medicine. Rhiannon credits the doctors at Monash Children’s Hospital for inspiring her to study health science and medicine.

“I’ve been through the health system quite a bit, and I’ve seen what doctors can do for people, and I want to do that for other people as well”.

“I just really want to emphasise how much Monash Children’s Hospital and Monash Health has done for me, I feel very loved and welcome at the children’s cancer centre, and it has just completely changed my life. I owe a lot to Monash Health, and I’m really grateful for them and just want to say how thankful I am.”

At Monash Health, we would like to congratulate Rhiannon on her incredible VCE results and wish her all the best in her university study and future.

Approved by Kym Forrest.

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