“Shock, disbelief ... it was sickening. I honestly felt like throwing up. You just feel numb.”
This was mother Skye Whiteman’s reaction when she was told her daughter, Brydee, had a rare form of leukaemia.
Brydee was just five and a half months old when she was diagnosed with the aggressive cancer.
“No one wants to believe that their child is going to have cancer,” Ms Whiteman said.
“It’s not exactly an experience I want anyone else to feel, but there are hundreds of children getting diagnoses every day.
“The leukaemia she has is rare, it's three in a million. She has a 50 per cent chance of survival.
“Basically the only cure is a bone marrow transplant.”
Amid the devastation of the diagnosis, there was a ray of hope.
Brydee has two bone marrow donors, and an upcoming operation planned for March could save her life.
Ms Whiteman feels fortunate to have two matches – both anonymous – for her daughter. She knows it is a circumstance that is not afforded to many with cancer.
The journey so far has involved a string of complex medical procedures, with multiple X-rays, blood tests, and chemotherapy.
Injections that Brydee must have every day for a week, every three weeks leave her marked with horrible bruises.
The road to recovery after the bone marrow transplant will be rocky.
Brydee will be confined to an isolation room for anywhere between six and 10 weeks after the operation.
The isolation is necessary to avoid the risk of infection, but it means Ms Whiteman’s elder daughter, Allyrah, won’t be able to see her baby sister for that time – not even on her birthday.
“It is to avoid germs because she will have no immunity at all,” she said.
“You have to buy all new toys, sterilise everything, and no flowers are allowed. There is a whole list of things you can't bring into the room.”
From there, Ms Whiteman and Brydee will have to spend up to 12 months in a self-contained unit close to the hospital in Melbourne, designed specifically for transplant patients.
During that time, young Allyrah will be cared for by her grandmother in Bendigo.
“It is going to impact quite a bit on our lives,” Ms Whiteman said.
Ms Whiteman’s best friend and godmother to her two girls Pete Thompson resolved to help the family and has planned a fundraiser for Saturday, February 6.
Ms Whiteman said she believed the fundraiser would help substantially with food, medical expenses, and caring for Allyrah.
Brunch and Market to help Brydee
A fundraiser will be held to support Brydee and her mother through the difficult year ahead.
A brunch and market day will be held at Bendigo Stadium to support Brydee’s battle with leukaemia.
A baby show competition will be held, encouraging proud parents to show off their child’s cute outfits and hairstyles.
The big event will also see a series of stalls with a range of goods, from Janberry Nail and Body Shop to Intimo Lingerie.
Stallholders will also be showcasing their handmade goods and jewellery, and there will be face painting, coffee, tupperware, massages and a DJ.
Proceeds from a luncheon will also go towards the worthy cause.
There will be a raffle and door prizes to help raise funds.
Baby Brydee’s brunch and market will be held between 11am and 5pm on Saturday, February 6 at Bendigo Stadium.
For more details, phone organiser Pete Thompson on 0408 139 234.