Molly's Story23 August 2021
When your bright and energetic 4-year-old says, “my bones hurt,” you know you have to listen. You just never expect for your whole world to completely shift in a day. This is what happened to one family when their daughter, Molly, received a devastating diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
When Molly first started to complain of a sore ankle, x-rays and scans showed nothing out of the ordinary. Her mum, Katrina, was concerned but not worried until the preschool rang one day to say Molly was refusing to put her shoe on her left foot. Katrina knew at that point that something more serious was going on.
Living in regional NSW, in the Riverina town of Junee, they saw their GP straight away. Katrina asked for blood tests to be done as this had gone on long enough - a mother’s instinct knew something wasn’t right.
Three hours later they got the call every parent dreads; Molly’s bloods were abnormal, and they needed to head straight to Wagga Base Hospital. In just 24 hours, Molly’s family had their whole world completely shifted. The young family were told by their local doctors to pack for 6 months, as they wouldn’t be returning home.
Back in Sydney, a team of specialists at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick were preparing for the family’s arrival - the multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses and allied health professionals were equipped to give Molly the best fighting chance.
Receiving the news of Molly’s diagnosis was made even more challenging due to the impacts of COVID-19. While most of NSW were staying home, doing their bit to protect the community, Molly’s family had to leave the security of theirs. Despite the elevated anxieties surrounding this, the hospital made sure the family had everything they needed during this difficult time.
On arrival, they met Dr Toby Trahair, Senior Staff Specialist at the Kids Cancer Centre, who was able to deliver the definite diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia - one of the most common childhood cancers.
Molly has both good days and bad days throughout her treatment. But if one thing is for sure, you could never wipe the cheeky grin off her face. Despite what she was going through she always maintained a positive fighting spirit.
To date, Molly has undergone seven rounds of chemo and 14 general anaesthetics.
"Molly's been through so much in her short life, more than most people go through in a lifetime. I really don’t think she could have got through it without the incredible support provided by the Child Life Therapy team at the hospital,” explained Katrina, Molly’s mum.
“Through every procedure, round of chemo, scans and tests, someone from the team was always there right beside Molly to ensure she was in the right frame of mind and understood what was happening to her. This made a world of difference.”
Child Life Therapy helps provide a positive experience for kids in hospital. Using age-appropriate music, play and language, it can help prepare for procedures, reduce anxiety and develop resilience and self-esteem – something so important for kids like Molly.
Molly is closing in on 12 months of treatment, with two more rounds of chemo left. Spending so much time at the hospital meant staff have become a second family.
“The nurses are so good with Molly, and passionate about her emotional and physical care. Molly’s care has been above and beyond, the oncology ward is exceptional. The care that not only Molly receives, but the whole family, is truly amazing. We are so grateful we are here and getting the best care possible.”
Molly still has a long road ahead of her, but after having to relocate to Sydney, is looking forward to getting back home and spending lots of time with her younger brother - and of course, starting kindergarten next year!
Living regionally, Telehealth will play a vital role when the family returns home later this year. Even though they will have support from their local doctors, Molly’s parents are relieved to know they will be able to talk regularly with the team they have gotten to know so well at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.
“The comfort you get from talking to your own team, who have ultimately saved Molly’s life, is immeasurable.”