Music is a Must

Nine-year-old Georgia is a creative soul. She adores ballet, is a talented artist, and loves music and singing. Her music idols are Taylor Swift, Lorde and ABBA, but her taste is also influenced by her mother, an avid alternative rock listener.

Georgia’s parents, Anna and Hamish, and her older brother, Samuel were shocked when in July 2017 Georgia was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a rare and a very aggressive form of bone cancer.

During the July school holidays Georgia complained of a sore leg. The pain worsened, keeping her awake at night for four days, so Anna took her to the doctor. Nothing was found, but two days later Georgia could not walk on her leg. Going back for a second opinion, doctors discovered a tumour in her femur.

“The doctors told us that usually osteosarcoma spreads from the bones straight to the lungs, but we got it quite early, so we were lucky,” said Anna.

Georgia started very aggressive chemotherapy just two weeks after her diagnosis, the beginning of her 10-12 month treatment plan at Monash Children’s Hospital.

“Her chemotherapy is very confusing, as she's on three different types and one round of chemotherapy is five weeks,” said Anna.

“Georgia is in hospital for at least six days and is then meant to have a two week break, but in that time her blood levels drop and are supposed to recover but they never do and usually after being home for five days she is admitted back into hospital with a high temperature and is put on blood transfusions and antibiotics. Then it takes another five days before she is let out. Then on Day 14 she is admitted again for her next round of chemotherapy. After usually the sixth day she is let out for two days and then she's back in hospital and has to do it all over again.”

“There have been times when she has asked me ‘why me’ and ‘why do I have to do this?’ I guess it is very confusing to her. She said to me ‘I always thought I was very healthy.’ As a mother, it was very hard to hear that, but I always reassure her that we will get through this and she will live a very healthy life.”

“Kids are amazing. They get knocked down and bounce back pretty quickly.”

Georgia’s passion is music and so Anna made sure that her daughter started Music Therapy (funded by the Children's Cancer Foundation) from the very first week of the treatment.

“She loves music therapy. It’s one of the things we asked for right away. I just knew it was really important for Georgia’s mental health,” said Anna.

“After music therapy, she’s very motivated and wants to do other things like borrow a keyboard, just play around on any instrument, or listen to the music on her iPad. She gets a sense of calmness and it brings her back to life. It’s just so vital for Georgia.”

Anna makes sure the music continues at home and the family sings Georgia’s favourite songs together.

“She can’t use her legs at the moment, but we make up actions with our arms and heads, and we dance and sing sitting down,” said Anna.

“When we are at home we try to laugh a laugh a lot. And love, a lot of love! We always strive for cuddles, being together and going to our favourite place (Warburton) if we can, if Georgia is well enough to. Also just accepting that we are tired and can be cranky at the same time. And we have a lot of support from friends and family.”

Anna’s advice to families on the cancer treatment journey is to involve your children in all the in-hospital programs on offer. Georgia also loves her Beaded Journey and “takes it everywhere she goes.”

“The Foundation is amazing. They provide so much support, funding for cancer research and bring life to the kids who are sick in bed,” said Anna.

Watch Georgia with Priscilla, music therapist at Monash Children's Hospital

Thank you to Anna for generously sharing Georgia's story with the Children's Cancer Foundation.