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A happy family of five - dad, mum, son and two daughters - including Dakoda who has leukaemia. Dad is in the foreground giving a thumbs up.

Real Stories

Michelle keeps pushing through

“The impact of cancer is huge. It becomes a full-time job. Every day is a different juggle. I can’t always plan, and when I do, not everything goes according to plan.”

When Michelle’s daughter Dakoda was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of three, the busy mum joined the rollercoaster of childhood cancer. Every day she juggles Dakoda’s treatment with caring for her other two children, connecting with her husband and working as a nurse. This is Michelle’s story. 

Dakoda was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April 2020 at the age of three after presenting to hospital with a lump. Just days later she was in surgery, followed by treatment on the oncology ward.

Treatment came at the start of COVID which was stressful because there were so many restrictions, like only being allowed to have one parent in the ward.

Now, after 12 months of treatment, Dakoda is on maintenance, and we administer medication at home. But it will be a long journey of ongoing checks and visits to the hospital – at least every three months – for the foreseeable future.

The impact of cancer is huge. It becomes a full-time job. Every day is a different juggle. I can’t always plan, and when I do, not everything goes according to plan.

I’m a nurse and I had to give up work for twelve months when Dakoda was diagnosed. I’m now back at work because we need to pay the bills, but trying to juggle the kids, Dakoda’s treatment and work is difficult.

The emotional rollercoaster I’m on is intense – there’s anger, hate and many ‘Oh no!’ moments. Somehow, I trudge through.

But our situation has been tough on the kids Indiana (12) and Zavier (9). I remember once having to take Dakoda to hospital at 3am and I just had to leave them a note. There are so many things that we miss. When Zavier came back from his first school camp, I couldn’t be there to welcome him home. We can’t always be there to watch them play sport.

I guess we are lucky though. We have very resilient children and I have some girlfriends who have been amazing. But a lot of friends don’t understand. Some friends have slipped away. They either think we are in the too hard basket or that being at home means everything is OK, but our journey is ongoing.

My husband Garry has struggled with Dakoda’s diagnosis and treatment so to cope he tries to keep himself busy, and he runs. I walk. My girlfriend and I try to walk every day when I’m not working. That helps me mentally and physically. In September 2021, I walked 330km to raise money for Redkite.

I was introduced to Redkite through the Red Bag which I was given in hospital and it is great. It’s always packed and ready to go. I keep it at the end of Dakoda’s bed for easy access.

I’m also looking forward to joining Redkite’s Coffee Club because being able to connect with other people that understand what we’re going through as a family is really important. 

Dakoda is now four and she started kindergarten this year. At the moment, she is also really clingy with me. She wants to be with me constantly and she cries when I go to work, but I have to go to work.

Every day continues to be a juggle trying to figure out where everyone needs to be, what medications need to be administered and whether I have a thermometer, because if Dakoda has a high temperature I have to grab her Red Bag and head straight to the hospital.

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