Lexie's Christmas

07 Dec 2017

Without treatment, Lexie had two weeks to live. Overnight she became ‘the kid with cancer’.

Lexie was six years old when she was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma – an aggressive form of cancer that occurs mostly in young children. One moment, Lexie was enjoying an ordinary life, going to school, singing and dancing. The next, she and her family were reeling from the awful news.

“I asked, if I was to take her home now, how long have I got? I was told a week. Maybe two” – Lexie’s mum, Kelly.

Lexie and her mum Kelly today

Even with treatment, survival was not guaranteed. The only certainty was that without treatment, she would definitely die. Lexie’s treatment started that afternoon at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and her world changed overnight.

“By the time we got up to the oncology ward it was dark.

“The next morning we woke and saw all the other children, all these faces with no hair. That was when I really understood what was happening” – Kelly

A new ‘normal’

Three weeks later, Lexie had lost her hair as well. Soon, it was seeing children with hair that didn’t seem normal. Lexie’s ‘normal’ became a hospital bed and treatments including radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, tumour removal surgery, and a bone marrow transplant. The treatments saved Lexie’s life. But they took a toll on her small body.

Research is the best hope we have to find a cure. No child should be known as ‘the kid with cancer’.

Lexie (right) with her brother and sister at Christmas in between treatment

For a long time, a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach was all we had to treat cancer. But, thanks to our many years of research, we know that every child and every cancer is unique. We are making huge advances in personalised medicine to make sure that children don’t su?er the way Lexie has.

“I wish they could find a cure for this horrible disease for these children. And even with the treatment, create something that’s not quite so harsh on their little bodies” – Kelly

This is our wish too. That’s why, in partnership with Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, we are leading the Zero Childhood Cancer program– a ground-breaking personalised medicine research program across Australia.

Zero Childhood Cancer leads the way

Under the Zero Childhood Cancer program, researchers will be able to analyse a sample of the tumour from a child with high risk cancer to recommend personalised, targeted treatment.

The program will be offered in all eight children’s hospitals in Australia, and involves 13 leading national and international research partners. Over the next three years, we’ll be helping up to 400 children with the highest-risk cancers around Australia. The results will be shared internationally so that other children can benefit too.

Thanks to advances in children’s cancer research, Lexie is now cancer-free. Here is her beautiful artwork featured on our Christmas card this year.

Beautiful artwork by Lexie

Christmas wish list

Lexie’s Christmas wish list is very short this year. Cancer-free now for five years, she would like to put that time behind her. She doesn’t want to be known as ‘the kid with cancer’ anymore. Instead, she would like to be simply Lexie the sister, friend, daughter – and most of all, dancer. It’s her favourite thing in the whole world.

When Lexie starts high school next year, she won’t stand out because she is bald. She’ll be just an ordinary kid who can follow her dreams and be who she wants to be.

Many children and their families will be battling cancer this Christmas. With your help, and our research, we can ensure that all children can enjoy an ordinary Christmas, cancer-free. Thank you for your support. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Read more about Lexie’s story.

Top image: Lexie spent over a year in hospital having cancer treatment.