Growing in Ruth’s Memory
After losing their infant daughter, Ruth, in 2020, Daniel and Tegan Barnett decided to create a community garden in Bondi in her honour.
Ruth was born in April 2020 and was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, in August 2020.
Neuroblastoma affects developing nerve cells and is a particularly aggressive form of cancer, with only a 50 per cent survival rate.
Ruth’s father, Daniel Barnett, told The Beast that he hopes the garden will be a constantly growing testament to Ruth’s life.
“I could’ve just done a GoFundMe page and I know people would have given money,” Mr Barnett told The Beast, “but I wanted to do something tangible and to create something that would keep on growing and would exist going forward in honour of Ruth. With a garden, our other daughter, Noa, can invite her community there and can remember Ruth too.”
The garden’s associated GoFundMe page is in the aid of Neuroblastoma Australia. Several local businesses have also come on separately to help fund the creation of the garden, which is based in a communal outdoor area in the family’s Bondi apartment block.
Anastasia Glushko, a close friend of the Barnetts and stakeholder engagement manager for the Children’s Cancer Institute, told The Beast that fundraising for children’s cancer is far more valuable than people first think.
“I see how much the research is needed because I know and loved Ruth, but also I see how far money can go. You think medical research and you think big pharma and billions of dollars, but no, $10,000 to $20,000 can go far,” Ms Glushko told The Beast.
Childhood cancers get four per cent of the funding that adult cancers get and are approximately 20 years behind in research and therapy.
“People mistakenly think that childhood cancer is just adult cancer in a smaller person, but you can’t actually easily extrapolate research from adults to kids,” Mr Barnett explained.
Neuroblastoma Australia provides money for cancer research, as well as supporting families with children fighting the disease, who Mr Barnett said often have to learn huge amounts of information about Neuroblastoma in a very short amount of time.
“I had never heard of Neuroblastoma before Ruth was diagnosed. These cancers kind of lurk in the dark and unfortunately no one hears about them until someone they love is hit with it,” he told The Beast.
Currently, the treatment for Neuroblastoma involves aggressive chemotherapy, some of which has been in use since the 1970s. However, advances in research could see treatment evolve into a more precise system that uses DNA sequencing of each specific child to deliver a tailored program of care.
The Barnett family and their supporters hope the garden will be completed by Christmas Day, the first anniversary of Ruth’s passing. Once it is open, it will be a community space for kids to learn about the environment, yoga classes and other events like an annual City to Surf barbecue.
“The garden will be full of natives, with lots of pink flowers and silver and lots of soft textures. It’s going to be absolutely beautiful,” Mr Barnett said.
The garden project, and the funds raised directly for Neuroblastoma Australia, wouldn’t have been possible without very generous contributions from Ideal Edging – innovative designer landscaping, Outdoor Establishments Landscape Architecture, BC Sands, Norton Plumbing, Indigigrow native plant nursery and Bunnings Randwick.
You can support Neuroblastoma Australia research by visiting the GoFundMe page ‘Ruth’s Pretty Garden’.