The first time Zoe’s mother, Suzanne, had an instinct that something was wrong with her daughter was when she noticed Zoe was very pale. At first she thought it might be anaemia, but when dark rings developed under Zoe’s eyes, Suzanne decided they needed to see their doctor.
The doctor took blood samples from Zoe and sent them for urgent testing. He rang Suzanne later the same day and said Zoe’s counts were low, that yes she was anaemic, but there could also be something else, and they should go straight to hospital for more testing. Suzanne burst into tears right then. Zoe was just 3 years old when she was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“I kept thinking ‘How will I get her through this? How will we cope?’ We thought it was so cruel just getting the initial blood test, with Zoe screaming, but it was just the beginning,” said Suzanne. “I have been honest with her from day one. I don’t hide things from her, because I want her to trust me. We’re seven months into the treatment now, and she’s accepting. She used to scream at the doctors when they came, but she doesn’t anymore. This is her world now.“
“I try not to plan too far ahead or get my hopes up too much. I say: ‘let’s get through this week and when we get through, fabulous. Then we’ll face next week.’ I hear a lot of sad stories [at the hospital], and I know Zoe is one of the lucky ones. We’re on our own journey, but I can’t help listening to others and feeling for them as well.”
“We have only two weeks of intensive treatment left and then we go on maintenance treatment. No more central line and intravenous chemotherapy. Zoe will have oral chemotherapy and regular blood tests, but we’ll be home… no more stays in hospital.”
Zoe is now aged 5. She is officially in remission and doing great. She started school this year and is loving it.