~ Story by Larissa Skuce and illustrations by Phil Hollands ~
This is Georgia. She’s four years old and very brave. This is her journey.
Georgia has been to hospital many times because she has a disease called Leukaemia.
The therapist at the hospital explained to Georgia that there are tiny friends that live inside our bodies called Stem Cells. Baby Stem Cells grow up to be one of three big cells – Red Cells, Penny Platelets or Mr White Cells.
Red Cells carry oxygen around our bodies so we have energy to run and play. If you have Leukaemia your body doesn’t have enough Red Cells so you feel tired.
Penny Platelets help heal our bodies when we get cuts or bruises. They help by making plugs in our blood so it doesn’t leak out. If you have Leukaemia your body doesn’t have enough Penny Platelets and it takes a long time to heal.
Mr White Cells eats the germs in our bodies. If you have Leukaemia you don’t have enough Mr White Cells so your body can’t fight germs. This means if you catch a cold it takes a long time to become healthy again.
Sometimes when something goes wrong Baby Stem Cells grow up to be Nasty Blasts. Nasty Blasts stop Red Cells, Penny Platelets and Mr White Cells from doing their jobs. Nasty Blasts make us feel very sick and we don’t have enough energy to play.
Captain Chemo is like a Superhero. He can destroy Nasty Blasts. He is a very strong medicine but for him to work some things happen that aren’t very nice. He makes your hair fall out, you feel sick in the tummy and he gives you a sore mouth. When Captain Chemo has done his job your body will feel healthy again and your hair will grow back.
The day after Georgia found out she had Leukaemia, she had to have Captain Chemo medicine at the hospital. Captain Chemo was put into Georgia’s body to destroy the Nasty Blasts.
Georgia was also given a blood transfusion of new clean blood to help her feel well again.
Christmas came and for the first time in Georgia’s life she was too sick to open all the presents Santa had left for her.
One night, soon after Captain Chemo had been put into Georgia’s body, her Mummy was stroking her hair while she fell asleep. Georgia’s hair began to fall out. Georgia cried, “Will my hair grow back Mummy?”
Mummy cried too. “Of course it will darling. Soon, when you have finished with Captain Chemo it will all grow back,” she said. Mummy cut Georgia’s hair into a beautiful short hairstyle to make her feel better.
On Daddy’s birthday the doctor called and exclaimed, “Captain Chemo has done his job and you are now clear of Nasty Blasts!” Daddy’s birthday cake read, “Happy Birthday Daddy and No More Blasts!” It was a wonderful day.
Soon after, Georgia’s first day of school arrived. Georgia looked a little different from the other children because she had no hair, wore a scarf and the medicine she was taking made her face puffy. Because Georgia was brave she made lots of friends in her class.
Georgia would often take her scarf off in class because she was with her friends. They didn’t even notice that Georgia didn’t have any hair – her friends liked her just the way she was.
Even though Georgia’s blood was clear of Nasty Blasts she had to go to the hospital every week. The doctors tested Georgia’s blood to make sure it was still clean and gave her more medicine to make sure the Nasty Blasts didn’t come back. The hospital was not a fun place for Georgia. It was very scary and painful to have so many tests and medicine.
When Georgia wasn’t at the hospital, she had fun with her family. They went for short holidays to the beach. They went skiing. They went to parks. They even met the some of her favourite television characters.
When Georgia was taking lots of medicine she had to stay away from germs. Sometimes Georgia was not allowed to go to school. She couldn’t play with her friends. Georgia had to stay home for a long time while she was having serious treatment. Staying at home became very boring.
One day Daddy wanted to do something different for Georgia. He made a fire in the backyard and the whole family toasted marshmallows. Georgia and her family became the best of friends because they spent so much time together.
Georgia was a very courageous girl all through her first year at school. At school she made things and played with her friends. She had lots of fun. On the days when Georgia was not at school she was at the hospital. At the hospital she had blood transfusions and took lots of different medicine. She spent a lot of time at the hospital.
After two years had passed Georgia was told that her body no longer had Leukaemia. She had been brave and was finally well again.
Georgia began the next part of her journey with a new year at school, her hair in pigtails (yes it grew back) and a huge smile on her face. No more Nasty Blasts!