Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lucy Laws home from hospital

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By DONNA CHISHOLM - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 23 March 2008


HOME AT LAST: Lucy Laws at home in Wanganui, wearing her beads of courage - one for every procedure she has gone through since being diagnosed with leukaemia.

It was the only present Michael Laws' family wanted this Easter having their golden girl Lucy back at home in Wanganui after nearly six weeks in Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital being treated for leukaemia.

Lucy, three, spent her first night at home on Friday night a day later than planned after she developed a fever on Thursday and had to be admitted to Wanganui Hospital overnight.

And while Laws and his partner, Leonie Brookhammer, and their youngest daughter, Zoe, are delighted to have Lucy home, the respite is only temporary Lucy must return for more treatment in Auckland on Thursday.

"I had this expectation that when Lucy came home everything would be normal again. But then you realise there is no normal any more," Brookhammer said.

Said Laws: "It just brought home to us that there is no end to this. The worrying part I think every cancer parent goes through it is that so much can go wrong."

Lucy was due to be discharged more than a week ago but spiking fevers from possibly hospital-acquired infections delayed her release.

Brookhammer, who is nearly three months' pregnant, says she and the girls ended up spending most of Lucy's first night home on the sofa.

"Zoe wanted to cuddle mummy, and Lucy wanted to cuddle mummy. And mummy wanted to cuddle daddy. So I spend half the night cuddling Lucy and half cuddling Zoe."

And while most children will be enjoying their Easter eggs today, Brookhammer says the biggest battle is getting Lucy to eat at all. She has lost weight and has a poor appetite since stopping the steroids she was on, but has had a hot cross bun and some chicken.

Lucy has had an almost miraculous recovery since being diagnosed with leukaemia, pneumonia and a fungal infection on her lungs doctors initially gave her only a slim chance of survival.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michael Law's daughter back in hospital

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Friday March 14, 2008

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws' young daughter Lucy has been readmitted to hospital with an infection.

The three-year-old had been staying at Auckland's Ronald McDonald House while being treated at Starship Children's Hospital for leukaemia.

Mr Laws said that as she underwent chemotherapy treatment she was more susceptible to infection than most children her age.

"She went to theatre and came out with a temperature of 39 degrees," Mr Laws told the Wanganui Chronicle.

Yesterday, she had so much pain she was unable to walk.

He said it was unclear exactly what the infection was, but it was probably caused by Lucy's poor immune system.

"We have been warned this is the case, and the reality is, even with a best-case scenario, it will be a roller-coaster ride for our family life. We just have to hope it works out."

In happier news, it has been revealed Mr Laws and his partner Leonie Brookhammer are engaged.

Mr Laws told Woman's Day he proposed on Christmas Day with a ring chosen with the help of his son, James.

He also revealed Ms Brookhammer was pregnant with the couple's third child.

Mr Laws has two adult children from previous relationships, and Ms Brookhammer has two additional teenage children.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

143 acts of courage

By RUTH HILL - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 13 March 2008

CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post

BRAVE ACTS: Each of the 143 beads on eight-year-old Stephen Uelese's necklace represents an 'act of courage' by the boy in his battle against cancer. He gets a hug from brother Ke'es, two.

Each of the 143 beads on eight-year-old Stephen Uelese's necklace represents an "act of courage" by the boy in his battle against cancer.

Every blood test, scan, chemotherapy session, surgical procedure, the two weeks he spent in isolation with pneumonia and pancreatitis, the week he was in a wheelchair because of a bad reaction to medication - each horrible experience is part of his own personal rosary.

"I hate the chemo," Stephen said. "But the beads are cool."

Most child cancer patients taking part in the Child Cancer Foundation's Beads of Courage programme will collect more than 400 beads during treatment.

"Beads of Courage provide the children with a special way of communicating and lets them know just how brave we think they are," foundation spokeswoman Olivia Baylock said.

Stephen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's T-cell lymphoma in October, three months after Wellington Hospital's child cancer unit was forced to close its doors to new patients because of staff shortages.

His mother, Marika Broad, said the family had 12 hours to "sort their lives out" before going to Auckland so Stephen could be treated at Starship children's hospital for six weeks.

Since January, the family had been sent to Christchurch Hospital three times, and it faced another five trips before Stephen could start outpatient treatment.

Being ripped away from normal life was very disruptive for the whole family, Ms Broad said.

"Stephen has been very, very brave but he always asks when can we go home to Wellington."

The practical and emotional support from the foundation workers in Wellington and the Ronald McDonald houses in Auckland and Christchurch had been vital.

"If it wasn't for these non-governmental foundations, we wouldn't survive the journey we are going through."

The foundation's annual appeal is this week and collectors are on Wellington streets today.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cancer appeal fits All Black to a T

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5:00AM Wednesday March 12, 2008
By Craig Borley
3-year-old cancer sufferer Alexa Carter gets up close to All Black and Blues hooker Keven Mealamu. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

3-year-old cancer sufferer Alexa Carter gets up close to All Black and Blues hooker Keven Mealamu. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Some heavy All Black grunt has got behind this year's Child Cancer Foundation annual appeal _ but as a fashion designer, not a footballer.

Keven Mealamu, the hooker famed for his shattering tackling, designed a T-shirt for the appeal, with a personal touch.

The T-shirt is graced by a monkey, with one ear swollen like his own cauliflowered auricle. Mealamu, who took art at school, said it was a fitting image.

"When kids first see me, they're staring at my ears for a long time. And I call my own kids my cheeky monkeys."

Mealamu was at the Foundation's Family Place in Auckland yesterday, playing with the children and signing their T-shirts.

"You take things for granted. It could easily be one of my children here. You can imagine what the parents are going through. So anything you can do to put a smile on the kids' faces is worthwhile," he said.

CCF marketing manager Olivia Blaylock said Mealamu's input was amazing.

"We need $7 million a year to run, and we don't receive any government funding. So any help these people can give us is incredible.

"And it's great for the kids to see him, and hang out with him."

Rochelle and Brent Miller, whose 7-year-old daughter Briar is undergoing chemotherapy for her leukemia, said the presence of Mealamu was appreciated.

The Foundation was a lifeline for families hit by their children's diagnosis and it was "nice to see [Mealamu] take the time to care", Mrs Miller said.