A family dealing with the frightening side-effects of cancer treatment
Dear Diary, does the Easter bunny come to hospitals?
2017 National Ambassador Darcie is peeking out through the window of the playhouse in the Auckland Family Place, trying to surprise our photographer and giggling like crazy.
Darcie’s mum, Cheryl, sits nearby and comments that her cheeky personality is just one of the things she loves about her daughter. It’s also one of the things that changed dramatically during Darcie’s cancer treatment.
Darcie’s hair has started to grow back after her last round of chemo in July and the family are cautiously optimistic about the positive scans that came through shortly afterwards showing she is in remission.
Darcie spent six months in Christchurch Hospital away from her home in Dunedin following a diagnosis of Burkitt lymphoma in February 2016. Scans showed seven aggressive tumours invading the small three-year-old’s body. Overwhelmed with information, Cheryl and Steven, Darcie’s father, faced a raft of decisions that had to be made. The couple felt torn. On one hand they wanted to hurry up and start treatment, while on the other hand, they couldn't believe what they were consenting to.
“She was scared of anyone and everyone who entered the room; then also moody and irrational from the steroids. This scared both my husband and I so much in the beginning, wondering if we would see our little girl’s infectious personality again.”Darcie's Mum, Cheryl
Cheryl says that Darcie's personality changed once the chemo started.
“She was scared of anyone and everyone who entered the room; then also moody and irrational from the steroids. This scared both my husband and I so much in the beginning, wondering if we would see our little girl’s infectious personality again.”
Visits from Darcie’s older brothers, 10-year-old Harry and 7-year-old Jessie, were the one thing guaranteed to bring a smile to Darcie’s face. “Her face would just light up the second they walked in the door,” says Cheryl. Harry and Jessie stayed at home in Dunedin during Darcie’s treatment, but travelled to Christchurch with Steven, who had started a new job, to visit their sister whenever possible.
Darcie tolerated the last two rounds of chemo better than the first four and Cheryl says that since then her personality has blossomed again.
Quality time together at the Child Cancer Foundation holiday home in Arrowtown over Christmas provided a chance for the family to reconnect and have fun together, although Cheryl says she feels reluctant to say life is back to normal.
“It was only this time last year that we were still in that none-the-wiser stage and soon our world was about to be pulled out from under our feet. It’s a weird time of the year at the moment, but Darcie has started doing full days at kindy, we are back in Dunedin and the next chapter has begun.”
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