Ka'ili's story

I believe everything happens for a reason, and we were given the task of beating cancer so we could help others.

- Kristy, Ka'ili's Mum

Ka’ili was a cheeky and very affectionate 4-year-old who gave her parents the shock of their lives when a tumour the size of a rock melon was found in her kidney. Her life, and theirs, was never to be the same again


Before she was diagnosed with cancer, Ka’ili was enjoying weekly gymnastics, jazz ballet and swimming lessons, as well as getting to know her new baby brother, Telu. She also loved playing pranks on everyone in her extended family. It was while on a family holiday in Fiji that she showed the first signs of illness, developing severe constipation, which her parents put down to the foreign foods she was eating. However, on returning to Australia, she mentioned that it hurt to go to the toilet. It was at this point that her mother, Kristy, saw bright red blood in the toilet and realised that something was very wrong.

I knew something was not right, and our life was about to be a lot different. 

- Kristy, Ka'ili's Mum


At the hospital, Ka’ili had a scan that revealed a tumour the size of rock melon growing in her kidney. After the tumour was biopsied, Ka’ili was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour, a rare type of kidney cancer. “I asked if she would be okay,” says Kristy. “When they told me that treatment for this type of cancer had an 80% success rate, it gave me some relief.”

I was completely overwhelmed… not only with cancer diagnosis, but with the uncertainty of the situation.

- Kristy, Ka'ili's Mum


Ka’ili began several months of chemotherapy at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, and Kristy says she accepted that the hospital was going to be their new home. “Once we had a plan, I had faith that were on the road to getting on top of the cancer,” she says.

After eight weeks of treatment, Ka’ili’s tumour had shrunk the point where it could be removed by surgery. She then continued with weekly chemotherapy for the next six months, after which she was sent home for a break.

I told Ka’ili that she had some sick cells in her body, and that the medicine was going to put them to sleep.

- Kristy, Ka'ili’s Mum


Just short of a year after her treatment had first begun, Ka’ili relapsed. She was to face another six months of intensive chemotherapy, along with radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant. Then, in March 2021, Ka’ili joined the Zero Childhood Cancer (ZERO) national clinical trial. She began a new treatment drug, which the ZERO results had shown to be targeted to her cancer. After four months, treatment ended and Ka-ili was declared in remission.

We got on with treatment and making the best possible experience out of a really bad situation.

- Kristy, Ka'ili's Mum


Today, Ka’ili is 8 years old and is in year two. Kristy says she has a newfound appreciation for the simple things in life, like sleeping in her own bed, watching her children interact, and seeing Ka’ili put on her school uniform and go to school.

“Ka’ili’s journey has taught be so many things,” says Kristy. “What used to be life prior to treatment will never be the same for us! Ka-Ili has taught me the importance of health and has been the epitome of resilience.

I believe future treatments should be individualised and this can only be achieved through research. I thank all the people trying to find cures and get answers.

- Kristy, Ka'ili's Mum

Give kids like Ka'ili another Christmas.