Mackenzie’s family are amazing supporters of our research so that one day no child will have to go through what Mackenzie has. Her mum, Errin, was recently interviewed by Kidspot about Mackenzie’s journey.
“We didn’t realise her bruises were a sign”
Errin didn’t know how sick her daughter really was.
“When nine-year-old Mackenzie had a few seemingly innocent bruises, we put it down to just being a kid.
“My husband George commented about the bruises on Mackenzie’s legs, but she is outdoorsy, so I fobbed it off initially – thinking the bruises were just from jumping on the trampoline. I thought if she had a serious health issue, they’d be all over her body.
“She started to look a bit pale and said she was tired, and we put it down to end of term, but I made an appointment at the doctors for the following week anyway.
“Then on the first day of school holidays her sister Jordyn called me and said, ‘mum Mackenzie is feeling dizzy, and her lips have gone white.’
“I took her straight to our GP, who sent us for blood tests, then a chest x-ray, before we were told by doctors at the Children’s Hospital that it looked like leukemia. I was absolutely devastated…..a mess, I really didn’t know which way was up. We came home and quickly packed a bag – what I didn’t need I put in the bag, and what I did need, I left at home. Everything moved so quickly – before we knew it, she was having two lots of blood transfusions, and a platelet transfusion.
“The next nine months would be intense treatment then up to two years of maintenance while Mackenzie fought Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I was in shock and trying to process it all. I asked the doctors to tell Mackenzie, they know how to deliver news so kids can understand, and I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to get the words out. During the intense treatment, Mackenzie suffered painful mouth ulcers and nausea.
“My husband and I tried to stay with her at the hospital – it was difficult for Jordyn, who was in Year 10 at the time. Some days were great; some were terrible. We might go home from hospital, just to trek back late at night because she had a high temperature. When that happened Mackenzie stayed in hospital a minimum of 48 hours because they were afraid of infection. The 48 hours would often turn into four or five days if she spiked any temperatures again. But on the days she was well enough, she’d go to hospital school.
“I suggested to Mackenzie to shave her hair as it started falling out in big clumps. I had ovarian cancer when I was 18, and knew if you shaved the lot, it grows back better. So, we made a big night of it…Mackenzie shaved her dad’s hair and a friend’s hair, they were like the three musketeers. She was ok, she embraced it and never grieved the loss of her hair. The only thing she ever said was, ‘people are staring at me mum.’
“It was heartbreaking not being able to take the pain away. She was on steroids, my tiny petite little girl ballooned out, some chemo affected her joints – other treatments affected her nerves. She ended up in a wheelchair for three months. To think at the start of the year, she was wake-boarding and water skiing, living her life like a normal nine-year-old. She is a brave little trouper and was known at the Starlight Room as ‘Captain smiley’ – she’d go in for chemo and couldn’t sit still, so would see if other kids needed help.
“When Mackenzie was at Ronald McDonald House, a one-year-old boy just adored her. All she had to do was walk into the room and his whole face would light up. If he struggled with his treatments and wouldn’t cooperate, Mackenzie helped him through it. Unfortunately, he passed away; that was devastating for her. At his memorial she cried in his mum’s arms…we’ve stayed friends.
“I coped because I had to. I was living on adrenalin. You get up and you put on a brave face and you keep going because it’s your child. But it’s been incredibly difficult at times. For the last two month’s I’ve been experiencing some anxiety – a child that went through treatment with Mackenzie, finished his treatment and now he’s relapsed. It really hit home for me.
“Mackenzie has just finished the maintenance phase of her treatment, she’ll ring the end of treatment bell in the hospital on May 9. She’s an amazing little girl. She’s brave and positive and has a great outlook on life. Now she goes to soccer training, and riding with friends – she has so much energy. I just want her to be healthy and happy.
“Fingers crossed, she won’t relapse. She’s always been a caring child, leukemia has forced her to grow up so much. But she doesn’t have that much patience and I keep telling her, ‘darling you need some patience.’ She says, ‘I’m not a doctor I don’t need patients!’
“Some of the things she comes out with you just laugh out loud, and that gets us through.”
Mackenzie’s family believe that Children’s Cancer Institute’s research is extremely important – so one day there is a cure for every child and better treatment options with less side effects.
“We are proud ambassadors of Children’s Cancer Institute and the work being done by their researchers in the search for the cure for childhood cancer. We have been involved in different fundraisers with Children’s Cancer Institute and Mackenzie really enjoys being involved and events and activities that are helping fund research for kids just like her”.
Article on Kidspot’s website here.
See why the Veloroos, a team of non-professional female endurance cyclists, are taking part in Endure for a Cure here.