Marlie Chapman is one brave little girl.
The three-and-a-half-year-old from Kurri Kurri was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer called a Wilms tumour late last year.
Doctors removed the rockmelon-sized tumour from her tiny body on November 24, and she is now undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
On the evening of November 15, Marlie’s parents Brooke and Bryce took her to the Maitland Hospital emergency department as her stomach seemed unusually hard and distended.
Paediatric doctors examined Marlie, and thought she may have had an enlarged liver. They took blood, urine and ordered an ultrasound first thing in the morning.
“When the results came through we were sent straight through to the John Hunter Hospital and were directed to go to the oncology unit,” Mrs Chapman said.
“The doctors told us not to worry however as soon as they mentioned oncology we knew something was very wrong.
“My heart sank, we were absolutely shattered, heartbroken and shocked, yet trying to be positive.”
The next day Marlie bravely underwent further testing and a CT scan, which confirmed their worst fears.
“There are no words to describe the pain, heartbreak, devastation, despair and shock that is felt when you are told your child has cancer,” Mrs Chapman said.
“We all had many tears but we tried our best to be strong in front of Marlie to keep her as strong and calm as we could.
“We were with her every step of the way and didn’t leave her side.
“I promised her anywhere she goes I go.”
After a 6.5-hour operation, the tumour was removed, along with Marlie’s right kidney, an ovary and lymph nodes.
“The surgeon told us it was the largest tumour he has ever removed,” Mrs Chapman said.
Pathology results later confirmed it was a Wilms tumour, a rare kidney cancer that occurs in about seven in one million children.
Marlie’s prognosis is good – but there is a long road ahead with her treatment and monitoring.
Mrs Chapman said they are hoping and praying for good results.
“Marlie is beautiful, bright and strong – our princess, our life, heart and soul and our everything,” she said.
Marlie is the Chapmans’ middle child – along with Tiah, 13, and two-year-old Nash.
The family had previously experienced some hurdles when Mrs Chapman started suffering from frequent headaches three years ago.
Diagnosed with chronic migraines, she has tried many different treatments, which have proven expensive and used all of the family’s savings.
“The constant headaches and migraines has also greatly affected our lifestyle and my ability to work and provide a much-needed secondary income,” Mrs Chapman said.
“I had been trying to work two days per week but often miss work due to unpredictable migraines.”
Mrs Chapman has taken time off work altogether while Mr Chapman has reduced his hours to care for Marlie as she undergoes her treatment – meaning the family-of-five is now living on one part-time income.
A fundraiser for the Chapman family will be held at the Hotel Denman, Abermain on Saturday, February 25 at 3pm.
The family-friendly event will include with fairies, superheroes, a jumping castle, raffles, auction, 100 Club, entertainment by the Gasoline Halos and much more.
Donations can be made online at https://www.gofundme.com/marlie-chapmans-treatment-fund.
FACEBOOK: Marlie’s Road To Recovery