Leukaemia: Mackenzie’s story
Kerri-Ann’s three young daughters were like any little girls, full of curiosity, laughter and mischief. In March 2013, life changed forever when the youngest, Mackenzie was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“Our journey with blood cancer started when we were camping, one of the things Mackenzie loved most. I noticed that she was tired all of the time and didn’t have her usual spark,” Kerri-Ann said.
“From a young age, Mackenzie was a little daredevil, a tomboy and she loved going outside. So when she didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew something was really wrong.”
After cutting their camping trip short to rush back to Brisbane to see a doctor, Kerri-Ann was told the news no mother wants to hear.
“Hearing the word ‘cancer’ from the paediatrician knocked me flat,” she said. “They said it was leukaemia but I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t even know it was a type of cancer, that it’s a blood cancer.”
“Mackenzie saw me crying. She knew that something wasn’t right. I had to tell my little five-year-old girl that she had blood cancer.”
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”
Within an hour of being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), Mackenzie was transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and began chemotherapy the following day.
It didn’t really seem to bother Mackenzie much that she had leukaemia. She took it all in her stride, and despite seven long months of chemotherapy, her zest for life never dulled.
“The Leukaemia Foundation contacted us when Mackenzie was diagnosed and provided support, even the small things like topping up the credit on my phone when it ran out and buying gifts for Mackenzie,” Kerri-Ann said.
“They also helped us pay our electricity bill and for my girls’ school uniforms; things that made such a difference for us.” By November 2013 Mackenzie was heading into remission. She was beating her leukaemia.
“The doctors told me she might go downhill a bit, but she was heading downhill fast so I took her back to the doctor. She had more chemo and everything seemed alright until Mackenzie complained of stomach pains and a temperature.”
Another trip to the hospital and more tests revealed that Mackenzie had relapsed with another type of blood cancer, lymphoma.
“Mackenzie or Macca as we call her was always the boss, despite being the youngest. She kept this attitude the whole way through her treatment, but she was still a sensitive soul. She wasn’t afraid to cry, or ask for help or tell us she was scared,” Kerri-Ann said.
Mackenzie underwent more chemotherapy to treat a clump of lymphoma cells in her stomach so she could have a bone marrow transplant to help her beat her blood cancer for good.
Sadly, this was not to be. Little Mackenzie passed away on in April last year, barely 12 months after being diagnosed.
“I’ve lost other family members and people who are important to me but nothing compares to losing a child. We will be hanging our Mackenzie bauble on the tree again this year to remind us of the special little girl she was.”
Help beat blood cancer this Christmas
Despite the very best efforts of the doctors and nurses and the support of the Leukaemia Foundation, Mackenzie lost her battle with blood cancer. We can’t let this continue to happen and more needs to be done to stop children like Mackenzie dying.
We know that funding research is the key to finding a cure but progress can take years. In the meantime there are still patients on their own blood cancer journey waiting in hope.
This Christmas consider making a donation to our Christmas Appeal and with your support we can ensure that patients have access the best treatments possible. Whether that be through providing assistance to cover the cost of travelling to Brisbane or Townsville for treatment and a home when they get there, to bringing life-saving drugs to Australia through a clinical trial program.