A mother-of-three has revealed how a hug with her youngest revealed a melon-sized tumor on her kidney.
Rosie White’s daughter Chloe was a little pocket rocket and was still trying to keep up with her two older sisters when suddenly in 2021 she started waking up in the middle of the night writhing in pain.
She was first thought to have a virus and, briefly, Chloe, almost three years old, showed signs of recovery.
“You check with your mum friends and they say their son or daughter had something similar,” Rosie told news.com.au.
“But that instinct from the parents was telling me something was wrong.”
Then, after comforting her daughter with a hug, Rosie felt a lump the size of a melon on her daughter’s hip.
Immediately she took Chloe to the hospital and the family was thrown into a world of hospital visits and tests.
Doctors determined baby Chloe had Wilm’s tumor, which is a rare form of kidney cancer in children usually under the age of five.
“Like anyone who’s been in this situation, you never think you’ll be sitting in the chair hearing this kind of news,” Rosie said.
“It just didn’t seem like a reality. It was one of those out of body experiences where you kind of hear the words and it was a bit of a blur that initial conversation.
“It can almost be quite a physical response. I remember my pain, my heart was really hurting.
She said it’s hard not to let your mind go to the darker places when you hear the word cancer.
Chloe didn’t quite understand what was going on, given her age, but knew she hated going to the hospital and being away from her sisters.
It was in the midst of the Covid pandemic and only one person could be with Chloe at a time due to restrictions, so Rosie and her husband Chris split up between hospital, home schooling their two older children and work.
Initially, Chloe had to undergo five weeks of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor so she could have a nine-hour operation to remove it.
But it didn’t work as well as hoped, and Chloe faced another 34 weeks of chemo.
She was devastated, but the charity-run Starlight Room at the hospital has always been a way for Chloe to feel like a kid again to just laugh and have fun, whether painting, making riding a bike or chasing a Captain Starlight.
“I know it sounds almost cliché, but I can’t imagine going to a hospital and not having Starlight there, especially during Covid when we weren’t allowed to have visitors,” Rosie said.
“For Chloe, when she was in the hospital, it was very clinical and not always positive, because of all the beatings and prompting, and having something like Starlight where they can escape that, that’s a part so important to any recovery.”
Rosie revealed that when she and Chris got married in 2009, the bonbonniere involved Starlight, handing out pins and donating to charity.
“It was really quite a surreal experience, then in 2021, standing in the Starlight Room and thinking that we’ve donated in the past,” Rosie said.
“We have been constant supporters, but now we are at the other end.”
Rosie said the help they received from Starlight during Chloe’s treatment has just been a big part of the family’s healing.
Now Chloe’s tests seem positive and she feels more like herself, her cheeky smile and her energy returning within limits.
She is happy to spend less time in the hospital and more time with her older sisters at home.
Rosie shares her family’s story to support Starlight’s September appeal, Kid’s tower.