Bridget’s Story

Bridget had already survived cancer once when she had to fight for her life a second time

Can you imagine having to tell your beautiful six-year-old daughter - who has already survived an aggressive cancer once - that it has come back and she has to fight it all over again? That unimaginable situation became the reality for Bridget’s parents Leigh and Wayne.

Bridget was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia when she was just three years old – only made aware of the life-threatening illness after developing a stubborn cough and undergoing a blood test. Bridget’s mum remembers the day they received the worst possible news for any parent.

“We were out the door in 10 minutes driving to the children’s hospital where the fight for Bridget’s life began,” Leigh recalled.

“To say we were devastated and in total shock doesn’t come close to describing how we felt that night.”

Within 48 hours, Bridget faced her first surgery; then months of chemotherapy. Little Bridget showed her bravery – fighting for her life every single day for more than a year. Bridget’s young body endured four rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and several months in isolation to beat the cancer.

Acute myeloid leukaemia is especially hard to treat due to its resistance to chemotherapy and high rate of recurrence. Sadly, this was to be part of Bridget’s battle.

“The test results showed Bridget wasn’t responding to chemotherapy as well as hoped, and she needed a stem-cell transplant,” Leigh remembered.

“The days leading up to it were frightening. Bridget was visibly scared. We tried to distract her, but the truth is, we were all terrified.”

Thankfully, Bridget’s stem cell transplant was a success and she could finally experience the happy childhood she deserved. She started school, celebrated her sixth birthday and loved dancing classes with her friends.

Life had returned to some sort of normality, when Leigh and Wayne received the devastating news they knew was a possibility, but had hoped more than anything would never happen.

Bridget had relapsed. Two years and seven month since her first diagnosis. Their brave little girl, who had already beaten cancer once, was going to have to fight for her life all over again.

“We sat her down and said: ‘Darling, your leukaemia is back’.

“She was so heartbreakingly upset… it was awful to hear and watch,” her parents recalled.

Bridget knew what to expect and had many questions for her parents and doctors.

Her first question was: “Will my hair fall out again?”

After losing her long blonde hair previously, Bridget cried when she understood she would have to go through it all again.

Within hours of receiving the devastating news, Bridget was back in hospital fighting leukaemia a second time, facing months of chemotherapy again, and a second bone marrow transplant.

“Bridget’s relapse meant she had to stop dancing, swimming, gymnastics and school; it meant relocating as a family and being away from friends and pets once again,” dad Wayne said.

Bridget endured more than any child should ever have to experience. The many months of chemotherapy destroyed her cancer cells, but also her immune system. During Bridget’s treatment some of those chemicals that were necessary to save her life would seep out of her skin and burn her. Her immune system was so damaged from the chemotherapy that a common cold became a life- threatening complication.

Bridget was in isolation for months at a time, had her life turned upside down, and endured painful procedures over and over again. The physical pain only amplified by a much greater pain – the loss of so many of her friends in hospital.

“None of the kids who went through it the first time with Bridget are alive now,” Wayne reflected.

“Bridget is back at home, enjoying school and living life as the beautiful girl she is.”

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