Brave Madi keeps smiling
Published in the Moorabbin Leader on Wednesday 28 June.
Four-year-old on road to recovery after cancer scare, writes Sam Bidey
When she’s snuggling up with her friend Hoff the toy horse from Munich it seems little Madi O’Neil doesn’t have a care in the world.
The truth is, while most children her age have been playing in sandpits or riding tricycles, Madi’s been undergoing cancer treatment.
The four-year-old Cheltenham girl was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in February 2015. Her parents Lyndsay and Craig had welcomed a second daughter, Ellie, four months earlier and the young family’s world was turned upside down when Madi got sick.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is the most common form of cancer in children but is still rare – accounting for 0.3 per cent of all cancers diagnosed – and is characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells.
“Madi didn’t understand, she was only two years and two months old and only knew how to feel by how she saw us feeling,” Lyndsay said. “As her mum I realised she always looked to me to gauge the situation so if I was acting like it was fine she was going to be OK and if I was scared she would be too and I didn’t want her to be scared.”
Since being diagnosed, Madi has spent about 150 days in hospital, usually with her good friend Hoff by her side.
“I’ve had Hoff for lots of days and lots of nights,” Madi said.
Lyndsay noticed something was wrong with Madi when she started walking strangely and falling over but it wasn’t until Craig’s long-time GP raised alarm bells that the family rushed her to hospital.
“One blood test told us what we needed to know,” Lyndsay said. “There were a lot of things that could have been worse.
“We knew what it was, we knew how to treat it and we knew it had a 90 per cent success rate.”
Madi has now finished her treatment and Lyndsay thanked Monash Children’s Hospital staff and extended family for their support during a tough 2½ years. The family are looking forward to a trip to the Gold Coast in September – their first proper family holiday.