When Maddy was four-and-a-half, she fell off the trampoline at her friend’s place and hurt her leg. When an x-ray at the hospital showed it was nothing serious, the doctor on duty said “she’s probably putting it on a bit.” But Kristy knew her daughter wasn’t like that.
Kristy took Maddy to the family GP, who thought she might be low in iron and conducted a blood test. He called Kristy shortly after and asked her to bring Maddy straight back to the surgery.
“I knew something was wrong straight away. Doctors don’t get you to come in for no reason,” says Kristy.
Maddy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and started treatment straight away at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. Her baby brother Lachlan was only seven weeks old.
“On our first night in hospital, Maddy saw a little girl with no hair and asked me why she looked different. Having to tell my daughter – who loved playing princesses and wearing pigtails and ribbons – that she too would lose her hair, was heartbreaking,” recalls Kristy.
Maddy underwent six months of intense chemotherapy treatment. The first three months were a blur of day-long trips to hospital, chemotherapy, fasting, cannulas and general anaesthetics. Kristy and Dave were forced to spend day after day away from their two young sons.
Maddy insisted on seeing the bright side of being in hospital. She laughed, sung, danced, made headbands and surrounded herself with all things purple.
“Maddy is an incredibly strong little girl. No matter what she was going through, she just wanted to have a bit of fun!” says Maddy’s dad Dave.
Maddy continued on maintenance treatment for 18 months then finally finished treatment in November 2013. While Kristy and Dave are glad that a big part of the journey is over, they know Maddy will need to be monitored closely for short-term and long-term side-effects, likely for the rest of her life.
Kristy and Dave champion Children’s Cancer Institute’s work and look forward to the day when childhood cancer is as easy to treat as a common cold.