Debbie Sorensen, her husband Henrik and son Christian are forced to live with her parents and five other family members in a modest house after the house they rented was sold.
Debbie Sorensen, her husband Henrik and son Christian are forced to live with her parents and five other family members in a modest house after the house they rented was sold. Lee Constable

Ten living in one house

DEBBIE Sorensen is a modern-day warrior.

The mother of two was diagnosed with advanced melanoma in April 2010 and has been battling the terminal disease ever since.

Small in stature but big in fight, the sharp-minded 45-year-old said she refused to listen to doctors about when the disease would get the better of her and vowed to live life.

But, in a cruel twist, her family has another battle to fight.

They have become yet another victim of Mackay's housing crisis.

Mrs Sorensen, her disabled husband, Henrik, and son Christian, 16, are forced to live with her parents and five other family members in one modest house.

The Sorensens' 21-year-old daughter would have made it 11 in the three-bedroom Mt Pleasant home but she was told she would have to live somewhere else and is now living in a caravan park.

"The doctors have told me I am meant to be living in a stress-free environment... but you can imagine what the family politics are like in these situations," Mrs Sorensen said.

The house the Sorensens used to rent was sold by its owner at Christmas, leaving them nowhere to go.

Mrs Sorensen speaks highly of her parents, who are in their 60s, and is deeply grateful for their support.

But she admits the cramped conditions aren't ideal for her family.

Mr Sorensen, who has a back injury, has been unable to work for the last eight years and the doctors have ordered Mrs Sorensen, who used to work three jobs, not to work anymore after her cancer recurred last year.

On a combined disability pension the couple only deposits about $1000 a fortnight into their bank account.

"The price of rent is just too high," she said.

"We need something around the $200 per week mark but you can't even rent a room for that much."

The family is on the Department of Housing waiting list and Mrs Sorensen has called CASA, the Red Cross, Tribe of Judah as well as applying through rental agencies for homes.

"They are trying to do their best... they all say they are sorry but they cannot help," she said.

Mrs Sorenson said she did about 90% of the cooking and cleaning in the busy household.

When it comes to showering in the one-bathroom house, Mrs Sorensen said it was all about timing.

"You just have to stagger it... and hope to goodness you get enough hot water," she said.


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