Strong and Independent Violet

In 2015, Violet was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. She was four and half years old, loved kindergarten and ballet, and was about to become a big sister.

“Violet became ill with tonsillitis and an ear infection that over seven weeks did not improve with three courses of antibiotics. During this time she stopped walking. Upon the fifth GP visit we were advised to take her straight to The Royal Children's Hospital emergency. We never assumed the worst, not once,” said Sal, Violet’s dad.

“Exactly four hours after we presented to emergency we were told that Violet had blood cancer.”

Violet began her 27 month treatment plan with 8 months of intensive chemotherapy and additional drugs followed by maintenance therapy for 18 months. Her long term prognosis was extremely positive: she would go on to live a healthy life.

“Violet is a cheeky, head strong girl who is always looking for adventure and loves being active – roller skating and perfecting her cart wheels and handstands” said Sal. “She is an old soul and makes us laugh with her curious questions and insightful observations well beyond her years.”

In May 2017, however, Violet had completed 26 months of treatment when she relapsed.

She had recently returned to school and her active life full time. A relapse meant that she would miss out on months of school and once again become isolated from her friends due to long hospital stays.

“It was heartbreaking news,” said Sal. “The thought of Violet undergoing two more years of treatment and the impact it would have on her was of great concern to us. Violet was in shock … and repeatedly blamed Tess [Violet’s mum] for lying, because we had been counting down the days to finishing treatment and had started planning a celebration holiday to Noosa.”

“It was a difficult time and while we were grieving, we still had to put our business hats on and plan for the long inpatient admissions ahead: notifying her school that she probably wouldn’t return that year; Tess requesting long term unpaid leave; the impact on Violet’s grandparents caring for her brother, so Sal could return to work and Tess could be with Violet at the hospital; changing our mortgage payments to interest only due to reduced income. The list goes on...” said Sal.

The Children's Cancer Foundation tries to lighten the load for families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis by providing therapeutic books for young children, the beaded journey to represent a child's journey and professional counselling for when families need additional support. You can help fund these programs by making a donation today.

Tess explained how the second diagnosis differed to the first: “The second time round your head is much clearer and we understood the medical terminology, so we have dealt with the situation much better this time. We know it is a moment in time and the world keeps ticking around us, so we try to make it as pleasant and positive as we can for Violet.”

‘Violet doesn’t want her health issues to define her, all she wants is to be well and return to school. She is the same girl she was before she was diagnosed – strong and independent,” said Sal.

Violet and Tess know that the long hospital stays can become very isolating – Violet has been an inpatient three out of the last five months – and find they are at their best when they stay active and engage with as many activities as they can.

“When Violet is up to it, we spend a lot of time walking laps of the ward, creeping in and out of rooms playing spies and taking breaths of fresh air out on the balcony,” said Tess. “Violet looks forward to collecting her beads for her Beaded Journey, as well as spending time with the Music and Art Therapists, all of which are funded by the Children’s Cancer Foundation. We love our Tuesday morning tea (‘Family Connect’) with the Foundation team. It’s so relaxed and Violet looks forward to making new friends. Things like this lift our spirits. We attend everything we can because most of the time we walk away brighter,” said Tess.

“We know there will always be hard days and not everything goes to plan, but we are stronger than ever because of our faith and hope in the clinical trials Violet is a part of and the quality of care she is receiving. We find it so important being a part of the clinical trials so we can help children in the future,” said Sal.

Please donate today to help fund clinical trials and clinical research to give children like Violet hope.