Mia: “He drew on my leg mum”

It was Christmas Eve. Mia – aged two and a half years – had an appointment with our local osteopath who treated her regularly for asthma. Mia had been complaining of a stomach ache for a couple of weeks and I mentioned this. About half way into the treatment the osteopath felt Mia’s abdomen, and looked at me deeply concerned: “I’ve found something and I don’t know what it is”. Our GP immediately referred Mia for an abdominal ultrasound. The resulting report stated “suspected Wilms' tumour”.

The next day we went to emergency at The Royal Children’s Hospital with a healthy looking toddler and scans showing a large tumour on her right kidney and a small tumour on her left kidney. We obtained the official diagnosis on New Year’s Eve following further comprehensive scans. It was bilateral Wilms' tumour, meaning both of Mia’s kidneys were affected.

Two days later Mia was admitted to hospital for surgery to insert her port. She then commenced six weeks of chemotherapy treatment. 

After six weeks of treatment, scans showed that the tumour on the left kidney had disappeared and the one on the right was substantially reduced. Surgery to remove the remaining tumour occurred in February. Mia underwent further chemotherapy until June. 

It is very difficult to explain to a 2 year old about kidneys, tumours, cancers, surgery treatment, let alone who oncologists and surgeons are. However, throughout Mia’s treatment she built happy relationships with hospital professionals, particularly with her oncologist and surgeon. Mia’s comment that “he drew on my leg mum” refers to preparation for surgery to ensure they operated on her right kidney.

No one can avoid noticing a child who has lost her hair, particularly Mia who had crazy long blonde hair before her treatment. When her hair started to grow back and everyone commented on this I would read her a wonderful book which the Children’s Cancer Foundation published for families, Georgie and Her Hairy Adventure, by Trish Dearn. This enabled me to talk her through the different stages of her treatment and recovery.  

Mia’s ‘crazy blonde hair’ has grown back. She is incredibly proud that she has now realised her dream of putting her hair in pigtails. She is still closely monitored by her oncologist and will continue to be for a long time.

Throughout that difficult time we were grateful for the many services at the hospital which are funded by the Children’s Cancer Foundation, including The Beaded Journey program which records the procedures that Mia has undergone. 

We are deeply grateful to the Children’s Cancer Foundation for its continued support and commitment to research, with the aim of improving treatments and outcomes for children diagnosed with cancer and to better the experience of children and their families in hospital."

Thank you to Mia’s mother, Heather, who has kindly shared her heart-warming story about Mia’s journey through cancer treatment.

Photo courtesy of Mrs Smart Photography.
Mia and her two sisters