Dakoda was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April 2020 at the age of three, after a presenting to hospital with a lump. Days later she was in surgery followed by a seven day stay on the oncology ward.
Mum Michelle juggled Dakoda’s treatment every day, along with caring for her other two children, maintaining her relationship with her husband and working as a nurse.
“Dakoda’s treatment came at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic which was extremely stressful as only one parent could be at the hospital.”
“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.”
Taking care of Dakoda was a full-time job and Michelle had to leave work for a while. “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. Our situation has been tough on the kids Indiana, 12 and Zavier, nine. 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 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.”
Michelle talks about wanting to connect with other families going through similar experiences through the Redkite Connect Groups and be a part of a community that understands.
“I’m also looking forward to joining Redkite’s Coffee Catch Ups because being able to connect with other people that understand what we’re going through as a family is really important.”
“When Dakoda started school, some kids asked her, ‘Why don’t you have hair?’ but she just told them ‘I have cancer.’ The kids have all been really good.”
After 12 months of treatment Dakoda is doing maintenance with medication administered at home, with visits to the hospital every three months for the foreseeable future.
“Dakoda has 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.”