Maddison’s story

Seven-year-old Maddison is always smiling, with her mum Vanessa calling her a “really special and very happy little munchkin”.

Seven-year-old Maddison is always smiling, with her mum Vanessa calling her a “really special and very happy little munchkin” despite being diagnosed and battling Rhabdomyoscaroma – a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles, since she was only four years old.

Maddison first presented to hospital in July 2017 with a suspected broken leg when she couldn’t weight bear fully. After a mass was discovered in her pelvis, she was transferred to the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane where it was discovered she had a large cancerous lump in her pelvis. Maddison initially received 14 rounds of chemo and 28 doses of radiation before she finished her treatment in July 2018. Further scans, then indicated that she would need further treatment to help fully treat her cancer.

In August 2018 Maddison had surgery twice, one to help cut the blood supply to the tumour and the second to help reduce the size of her tumour. Maddison then received three more doses of high intensity radiation to her pelvis. Finally, Maddison’s combined treatment has shrunk her tumour from about the size of a grapefruit to the size of a grain of rice.

Due to Maddison’s treatment protocol she had to miss the last six months of Pre-prep, most of Prep, Year 1 and now the start of Year 2. During her treatment Maddison was away from her home, family and her friends.  She was able to return home mid-2018 but had frequent trips and admissions to Queensland Children’s Hospital as her body struggled with complications of her treatment.

Maddison spent the last few months of 2019 battling hemorrhagic radiation cystitis before having more surgery to remove her bladder in January 2020.

Since her initial diagnosis in 2017 Maddison has had her sprits lifted whenever she has had to spend time at hospital due to the amazing work of the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Maddison’s mum Vanessa said “The foundation offers so many great activities and entertainment for children at the hospital and Maddison has been able to enjoy many of these. Bedside play, music therapy, the book bunker, Juiced TV, craft days, special events such as EKKA parties, Christmas Parties and other exciting events not to mention the many special visitors that visited the hospital wards were only a few of the ways in which the foundation helped to bring a smile and laughter to Maddison’s face.

The wonderful thing about a lot of these events and activities is that they are not just aimed at the sick child but help to bring a smile to the sibling’s face as well. My son Andrew, Maddison’s older brother has been able to join in with so many of these events as well when he came to visit his sister at the hospital making his days more exciting and helping him feel included.”

Music therapy has played a huge part in Maddison’s recovery. When Maddison was first diagnosed in 2017 she was unable to weight bear and it was her music therapist who helped get her up and out of bed through music and dance. This has had a knock-on effect through her entire treatment with dance always being a go-to when Maddison needed encouragement to mobilise. Maddison is now looking forward to starting Ballet lessons to help get her leg better.

Maddison has a real love for bedside play with many requests to have visits from Entertainment volunteers. When asked why she went to hospital Maddison’s first response was always – for bedside play.

“These volunteers give so much to the children in the hospital and it is so lovely to see them interact with your child, to see the genuine joy that both the volunteers and your child gets from something as simple as playing with playdough, making lego or having a tea party. Words cannot describe how much being able to see your child be a child when their life becomes about hospital stays and visits. Nor can they explain the joy in knowing that ‘a new friends’ life that they have just made was potentially saved by a piece of equipment purchased by the foundation” explained Maddison’s mum Vanessa.

As a complication from the radiation Maddison received during her initial cancer treatment, she has suffered prolonged bleeding from her bladder.  Unfortunately, once again, this resulted in a long hospital stay.   After months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and a trial of instilling special liquid into her bladder they made the decision to remove her bladder. Maddison has just undergone formation of a neobladder which is her fourth operation this year.

Maddison still has many challenges ahead and will continue to have regular trips to Brisbane as they monitor her progress.

“This for her, is time to start making new memories to go with those she has already been able to make thanks in part to the wonderful work of the Children’s Hospital Foundation” added Vanessa.

Story written and details correct June 2020

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