Wednesday, April 2, 2008

No more tough trips for Bianca

TOM FITZSIMONS - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 03 April 2008


CHEERY AND CHEEKY: Leukaemia sufferer Bianca White, 4, enjoys a fresh-air break outside the Grace Neill block.

While Bianca White laughed and tasted fresh air for the first time in days, her father gave thanks that the "axe blow" to Wellington Hospital's child cancer unit had been staved off.

"We're happy," Terence White said yesterday outside the hospital where four-year-old Bianca is in an isolation unit.

"We do think Wellington should have an oncology service. It's the capital city of New Zealand - and we'd really like to have some certainty."

Bianca was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last June, beginning a course of treatment more than two years long. Though the most intensive chemotherapy had finished - and her hair was starting to grow back - Bianca was put back into isolation earlier this week because of a recurring case of shingles.

Hospital staff let her have 10 minutes outside in a Wellington southerly yesterday afternoon. But despite not being able to push the button in the lift or shake hands, Bianca was full of cheek - joking with her dad as she rode aloft on his shoulders.

"She's been as cheery as we have been," Mr White said. "At the end of the day, it's something that has happened. It doesn't do a lot of good being sad about it."

Going to Christchurch for treatment before Christmas had been tough, and further trips or a permanent move would have been jarring for the family, he said. Temporary doctors at Wellington were helpful, but there were no options if they were sick or Bianca had problems after-hours.

The shortage had been "pretty much like an axe blow" and other families had suffered more than them, shuttling back and forth to other hospitals.

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