17 September 2020 Home page

Sophie’s story

Without the continued support from Woolworths, their customers and the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Sophie’s future could have been very different.

On behalf of thousands of sick kids and their families across the state, the Children’s Hospital Foundation are thanking Woolworths teams and their customers for working hand in hand to raise more than $60 million over 34 years to positively shift health outcomes for Queensland’s sickest kids.

The generosity of Woolworths customers and team has helped fund ground-breaking medical research, essential equipment and entertainment and support for kids and their families.  Support that helped Sophie and her family cope, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at just three years old.

By the time Sophie was officially diagnosed in May 2014 the disease had spread through every bone and had essentially taken over her bone marrow, Sophie had just a 40 to 50 per cent chance of survival.

Her little body endured six cycles of chemotherapy, more scans, pain medication, many central lines and many nasogastric tubes inserted, and a biopsy to find out more about her cancer.

“This biopsy was examined locally and also sent to the Tumour Bank to access worldwide information about her particular cancer,” Sophie’s mum, Kimberley recalled.

During the initial chemotherapy, Sophie’s weight dropped to 14kg and Sophie stopped talking. Doctors and nurses assured Sophie’s parents that she just needed time to process what was happening to her.

“One of the turning points at this time was meeting music therapist Dave. Sophie responded really well to music therapy and through Dave’s care through music, Sophie finally started to talk.

“Even to this day Sophie continues to have major anxiety when it comes to anything near her nose, and when having ongoing treatment and check-ups.”

The months following Sophie’s diagnosis involved major surgeries, the removal of tumours near her kidney, around her lower spine, and all around her adrenal gland. She also had her right kidney removed.

“By the time these operations were undertaken the tumours were pushing out of her bone marrow trying to escape and they were everywhere,” said Simon, Sophie’s dad.

“Thankfully the tumours had not spread into her spinal cord. This was important as it allowed her to then have a bone marrow transplant.”

Sophie’s bone marrow transplant coincided with the opening of the new Queensland Children’s Hospital. She was the first ever patient of Queensland Children’s Hospital and was captured by media leaving the old hospital by ambulance and arriving at the new one.

Close to eight months after Sophie was first admitted to hospital, and following chemotherapy, radiation, a bone marrow transplant, and immunotherapy, she was able to return home – just in time for Christmas.

Sophie has suffered side effects of treatment including hearing loss, anxiety and intellectual development delays, but is a happy nine-year-old attending school and visiting Queensland Children’s Hospital for ongoing check-ups.

Kimberley was working for Woolworths at the time of Sophie’s diagnosis and shared that Woolworths had been very supportive of her and the family while Sophie underwent treatment. Woolworths allowed Kimberley to take extra time off without pay and held numerous fundraisers for the family and all children in hospital.

“Before I was an oncology parent, I used to sell the Woolworths tokens at work but did not really understand the impact that these tokens had.”

“Now, I have a new perspective and appreciate how valuable every single token sold is and what that token means to families staying in hospital. I consider these tokens life-changing, and every customer buying a token is helping to pay for something really special – treatment, equipment, research, or entertainment that could change a life.” Said Kimberley.


60 million reasons to say thank you, Sophie is just one of them.