I was numb, scared and wanting to wake up from this nightmare. But it was only just beginning.Errin, Mackenzie's mum
Life was great for the Isedale family. They were always going away on little holidays down in Nowra, fishing, swimming and laughing. Until that horrible day when Mackenzie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
When Mackenzie's family were on their annual fishing trip, Mackenzie wasn’t feeling great. She had been complaining of headaches, dizzy spells and general tiredness. Her dad Craig had also noticed some bruising on her legs. Her mum Errin took Mackenzie to the optometrist to have her eyes checked.
I thought her eyesight was the answer, along with the fact that she was due for a well-deserved two weeks off school holidays.
On the first day of School Holiday, Mackenzie’s older sister phoned Errin saying that Mackenzie was feeling dizzy and her lips were white. Errin left work straight away and took Mackenzie straight to the GP for blood tests.
Our GP sent Mackenzie straight to the Emergency department where x-rays would determine if we could take her to the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick by car or by helicopter flight.
Numb, scared and wanting to wake up from this horrible nightmare, Errin had to stay strong for Mackenzie as she didn’t fully understand what was happening to her. Mackenzie’s Doctor, Dr Sue Russell, took Errin and her husband into an office and told them Mackenzie had been diagnosed with Acute Lympoblastic leukaemia.
All I wanted to do was cry but I tried to be strong for Mackenzie.
Getting ready for treatment
Mackenzie went straight to theatre to have her port inserted. The following Sunday the family was allowed home for a couple of days to regroup as they would spend the next 3-4 months in Sydney at Ronald McDonald House.
During their time at home, Mackenzie had her hair cut and coloured purple. On Tuesday night they packed the car and headed to Ronald McDonald House to begin the chemotherapy on the following Wednesday.
We made a pact as a family that we would not let anything get in the way of ‘us’ and we would pull together as one.
Treatment was very toxic to Mackenzie’s little body. During the first protocol she was constantly spiking temperatures which meant she was admitted to hospital for a minimum of 48 hours. These 48 hours often quickly turned into a week long stay.
At one stage, Mackenzie was put into a wheelchair as one of the drugs affected her nerves and joints so she couldn’t walk. It was really hard for her family to see her like this as she was always a very active young girl.
Mackenzies' treatment consisted of 9 months of intense chemotherapy and then 18 months of ‘maintenance' treatment, until April 2018 (2 years post diagnosis).
We tried to be as strong as we could for her whilst she was going through this intense phase of her treatment.
The diagnosis took a real toll on the family. Whenever someone was sick, they had to stay away so that they didn’t give their illness to Mackenzie. Although they stayed together as a family, one of them would be in Sydney for a week with Mackenzie whilst the other would stay home to look after Mackenzie's sister.
Mackenzie and her family are amazing supporters of our research and share their story to help us raise awareness and funds so one day no children will have to go through what Mackenzie has.
On the 11th April 2018 Mackenzie completed her final chemo treatment!
Their laughter will make your heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you ever see a child fight cancer, it will change your life forever.