When you become a parent there are many things you have to quickly learn. How to wrap the baby, feed them, settle them, check what colour their poo is, work out why they won’t sleep, master teething times and the list goes on. It’s an enormous, crazy and rewarding task of figuring out how to take care of this tiny human who is now your responsibility. With parenthood also comes that fear in the back of your mind – what if something happens to my baby.
I hope you never have a gut wrenching moment like this. A few words that change everything – ’Your daughter has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia’.
It hangs in the air like white noise, the world stops and nothing after that is the same.
A few words that change everything – ’Your daughter has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia’.
Duncan and Kate Beresford heard these awful and terrifying words on Sunday night, 21st February 2016. Frankie their beautiful daughter was only 2 years old and had been unwell– they didn’t image what was to come next. AML is a rare and aggressive leukaemia. Words like chemo and transplant blur together and in that moment life is no longer a gift but it’s a fight. Not a fight you have trained for or planned on – You were just watching your toddler run, dress up and dance with wonder and care free excitement – now you need to get a Hickman’s line and hold her hand as she gets a bone aspirate test.
Frankie’s mother, Kate Beresford said Frankie had been sick for a little while and antibiotics hadn’t cleared things up. “She had some bruises I’d been keeping an eye on for several weeks. Just days before we took her back to the doctor, her gums bled when we brushed her teeth. On a Saturday morning, I went shopping with my sister. Duncan called to say Frankie just wasn’t right – he was taking her to the doctor. Our GP thought she may have pneumonia. The next day, Frankie woke ok but by mid-morning she went downhill. She spiked a temperature and we called the at home doctor service. He took one look at her and called an ambulance to take us to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. Hours later we were told Frankie had pneumonia. The doctors also said there were some blood test results. It makes my heart race to type this while I remember the doctor’s face as she delivered the news that Frankie had leukaemia”. “We were brought into the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital we came through emergency, and she has been here ever since.,” Kate said.
Frankie is a sweet spirited little girl who adores kittens and is mad about Dora the explorer and Peppa Pig. How do you explain to such a young child what chemo is or that within 48 hours from hearing those words, Frankie would be getting her first dose.
Both Duncan and Kate are by her side every step of the way, every day around the clock, which of course means they are unable to return to work indefinitely. Over the last 6 months it’s been an intense fight. Frankie didn’t have a match for a bone marrow transplant, (get on the donor register now) Frankie has had a cord blood transplant and it’s taken it out of her. To say it’s been a difficult time is a gross understatement – it’s been torture. She has been in a confined room for over 40 days to make sure she doesn’t get exposed to infection, the amount of blood, tests and medication are too many to count. She has experienced extreme mucositis which means she couldn’t eat, drink or speak as her mouth has been deteriorating and blistered.
Frankie is fighting each day and she has not given up! Duncan and Kate have sat beside her every moment possible. They have some signs that engraftment has happened and await the result to see if the transplant has had effect.
As a community we need to make sure we reach out to Kate and Duncan and help. We can ease the financial concerns of not being able to work. Work is simply not even something they should think about at this time; bills being paid should not be a worry or concern right now. The only thing that matters is that they help Frankie stay alive and spend every second holding her hand and being there. Time is what they need and it’s what they are fighting for. More time is the wish.
The difference is staggering.For those of you who have never met Frankie, I want you to know what she looked like before leukaemia changed our lives.
The Gladstone community can help by donating money to pay medical bills, hospital parking and living expenses. Frankie’s Dad, Duncan said ‘Your generosity through this extremely difficult time will mean more than words can ever express and we could never thank you enough. Please keep our girl in your thoughts’.
If you can help please visit the facebook page ‘Frankie’s Fight against AML’.
‘Frankie, we put the gloves on and fight with you, I think of Kate and Duncan often and I have no words that can make this pain any better. We want you to know that you are loved and Frankie is a special girl who we will walk to the ends of the earth for. Whatever resources it takes to help we are in your corner Frankie. We will donate money and time, space to promote the fundraising and anything you need. Just keep surviving team Frankie’ said Karina from Gladstone News.
More information on a fundraising event for the Beresford family will come over the next few weeks. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates on the transplant progress. Don’t forget to register as a bone marrow donor, you can literally give a life for someone with AML needing a transplant.
We received news just as we were about to go to print, that Frankie’s
test said she is in remission. We are so happy! This is Kate’s message.
Break out the champagne! Our oncologist just came up to let us know Frankie is officially in remission!! We are crying tears of happiness!!! So thrilled and relieved. All tests are clear. Amazing, amazing news.