Molly's Story

23 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.” 

Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation raises funds for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick , The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS NSW) and Kids Research