Charlotte's story

Doctors said “if you take her home, she’s going to die."

- Danielle, Charlotte’s mum

When Charlotte started vomiting and refused to breastfeed, Danielle knew something was wrong and took Charlotte straight to the hospital.


When Danielle arrived at Mona Vale Hospital, Charlotte was becoming progressively worse. After doctors took multiple blood tests, the results were unexpectedly frightening. The Paediatrician said “I think it’s leukaemia”. By that stage it was 2am in the morning, and Danielle and Charlotte were immediately transferred to Sydney Children's Hospital in an ambulance at 2am in the morning.

I told the doctors; “you have to be wrong; I’ve done everything right with Charlotte." I didn't want to accept my daughter had cancer.

- Danielle, Charlotte’s mum

After diagnosis

A bone marrow transplant, lumbar puncture and chest x-rays were undertaken as soon as they arrived. Danielle didn't really know what was happening, and as Doctors started taking her through different chemotherapy options she became overwhelmed.

I told the doctors “no, I’m taking her home”. They said “if you take her home, she’s going to die”.

- Danielle, Charlotte’s mum


From that moment, Danielle and Charlotte didn't leave the hospital for the next seven weeks. The bone marrow biopsy and lumber puncture that confirmed Charlotte’s diagnosis and identified the leukaemia type as acute myeloid leukaemia were then repeated weekly to monitor the leukaemia cells still present in her system. Charlotte then endured 6 rounds of chemotherapy, multiple injections of spinal chemo directly into her spinal column, multiple blood and platelet transfusions and a stem cell transplant.

I couldn’t communicate; it was up to Charlotte’s father & my dad to contact the rest of the family with news on how Charlotte was going.

- Danielle, Charlotte’s mum

Side effects

Charlotte had to stay in isolation and couldn’t have visitors. She vomited constantly, which resulted in tube feeding and significant weight loss. It was horrible for Danielle to see her little girl go through such pain and to witness her hair falling out.

At one point Charlotte was so hungry as she had to fast; she was screaming but I couldn’t feed her.

- Danielle, Charlotte’s mum

After treatment

Fortunately, two weeks after her transplant, Charlotte didn’t need any more blood transfusions - a sign that things were improving. In February 2010 after several years of follow-up treatment, Charlotte was declared in remission. Charlotte’s parents know that her survival was the result of many years of research, which is why they are so passionate about supporting our life-changing research.


Charlotte is now a fiercely determined 11 year old. She attends an annual follow-up clinic to check for long term side effects caused by the treatment she endured at such a young age, and to assess her development as she heads towards her teenage years. Charlotte’s future fertility is also at risk and will be closely monitored as she gets older. Charlotte’s passion for dancing sees her attending at least 10 hours of dance classes each week! Danielle wants Charlotte to grow up understanding how science and the dedication of researchers and clinicians has given her the best chance of survival.

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