I was healthy and happy growing up in Auckland until I was 9 years old and I found a lump on my side by my ribs. Mum took me to the doctor who sent us to Starship Hospital where I had several scans and tests before the doctors told us that they had found a very large growth on my liver and they didn’t know what it was.
Doctors decided surgery was the best option - to remove the growth and test what it was, and a date was scheduled 5 weeks later.
By the time of my surgery I was really really sick, very weak, I was in a wheel chair as I couldn’t walk and was in a lot of pain. The liver surgeon from Auckland Hospital took 7 hours to remove the tumour along with 70% of my liver and my gall bladder.
After a few weeks, the big wound across the front of my ribcage and up the middle of my chest bone started to heal and I was feeling better when we met with the Starship surgeon to hear the results of the tests on the growth. But it was bad news. I was diagnosed with a very rare cancer undifferentiated sarcoma of the liver.
We went directly up to level 7 at Starship - the Oncology ward - and met Ruellyn Cockcroft, my Oncology Specialist and she spoke to my mum and dad about a treatment plan. Fourteen rounds of chemotherapy over a year.
The treatment began immediately. Each of the 14 chemo treatments took about 5 days and it would make me very sick, so that even in between treatment I would still be in hospital. The nurses and doctors at Starship were really nice and there were lots of sick kids just like me.
While I was ill, my family and I got lots of support and this really helped us cope. I got lots of amazing letters and cards from everyone. Parents from my school at St Michael’s provided meals and helped look after my little sister, Noon.