Esther’s story

Esther is seven and was born with albinism. She loves to sing and dance and is always smiling – even through her battle to beat two Wilms’ tumours on her kidney when she was just four years old.

During a holiday to visit family in Bundaberg, Esther started complaining of a sore back and tummy.  Initially, Kasey, Esther’s mum thought she was probably a little bit constipated, but then she could see Esther getting increasingly uncomfortable.  When she developed a fever, Kasey decided to feel her tummy and she found a large hard lump.  Following blood tests and an ultrasound at Bundaberg hospital, Kasey was told, Esther would need to be transferred to Brisbane as they had found two large masses in each kidney, which were most likely tumors.

“I had to ask the doctor if I could call my husband Tom, and if he could repeat it all to him.  My throat was choking up at this point. It was starting to hit me as he explained again to Tom that our little girl most likely had cancer.” said Kasey.

Once in Brisbane, Esther had further tests including blood works, ultrasounds, a CT scan, and x-rays, then they just had to wait!  That evening the family was told Esther had stage 4 and 5 bilateral Wilms tumors, as well as multiple smaller tumors in both kidneys and in her lungs.

Kasey said the family was told there was some good news, and that this is one of the better cancers to get in terms of being treated.  “The doctor told us kids usually respond really well to treatment and he was confident that death was off the table.  However, he did also say that this cancer does spread quickly and can double in size in a matter of weeks so treatment would need to start straight away.”

Thankfully the doctor was right, Esther responded well to treatment and after two rounds of chemotherapy, the tumors had reduced by 70%.

“She got really sick before she got better. She would normally have to come in once a week for chemo and it would be a whole day ordeal but for about two weeks, she got really sick and was checked into the hospital for that time,” said Kasey.

By the time chemotherapy had reduced the tumors small enough for surgery, Kasey was due to give birth to her third child.  Four days before Esther’s surgery Kasey asked to be induced to ensure she could be there for Esther and Tom during surgery.  That day Rosie was born, Esther and Tommy got to meet their baby sister and the family got to go home together.

Three days later the family was back in hospital for Esther’s first Kidney Surgery.  Esther spent the next month recovering and then went back again for her second kidney surgery. Six days of radiation treatment followed and then one last round of chemotherapy to make sure it was all gone.

“We spent most of 2017 in the hospital, but in April 2018 she got her port out and was officially clear of cancer!  We are so thankful for the Children’s Hospital Foundation.  During Esther’s hospital stays she had lots of interactions with the bedside play Green Team, all the entertainment and events, and we collected the Bravery Beads. We found these services really helped her get through all her treatments.

“From what the doctors explained to me, Wilms tumors are usually random and can happen to any child.  But bilateral, meaning in both kidneys, which is what Esther had, is often connected to another condition.  Esther’s only other obvious condition is Albinism, so they have been doing research to see if there is a connection between albinism and Wilms tumors. So far, they haven’t found anything to suggest this is true but in the meantime, Tommy and Rosie get ultrasounds just to be safe.” said Kasey.

Today, Esther is clear of cancer. She has a new baby brother Oakley and is back doing all the things she loves to do.  She hopes one day she can do gymnastics and complete the Ninja Warrior obstacle course.

Other ways you can help

Everything we do for sick and injured kids is made possible by the generosity and support of our donors, partners and the community.