Back to school helps Milla get bet­ter

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

Young­ster Milla Ward is on the road to re­cov­ery.

The five-year-old Maun­gawhau School stu­dent was di­ag­nosed with a wilms tu­mour, a form of kid­ney can­cer, in Oc­to­ber last year af­ter her par­ents no­ticed an un­usual bulge in her stom­ach.

It’s been a tough time for the fam­ily, but Milla’s mum Marnie St John says her daugh­ter’s prog­no­sis is pos­i­tive, with surgery in De­cem­ber re­mov­ing the 1kg tu­mour.

They’ve re­ceived plenty of sup­port from fam­ily, friends and the Child Can­cer Foun­da­tion, which is hold­ing its an­nual ap­peal this week.

“My mum came up from the King Coun­try for a month and friends would drop off frozen din­ners,” says Marnie.

Milla was weak for sev­eral months af­ter the surgery and is sched­uled to re­ceive chemo­ther­apy un­til June, but the Mt Eden res­i­dent says the fam­ily made the tough de­ci­sion to send Milla to school this term.

While the chemo­ther­apy low­ers Milla’s im­mu­nity, mak­ing her more sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tion, Marnie says go­ing to school has also been a life­line of sorts for her daugh­ter and the fam­ily.

“They do lose a lot of con­fi­dence, so that’s why school is such a good thing for her. The big thing is mak­ing life as nor­mal as pos­si­ble.”

Marnie says the most dif­fi­cult part of the treat­ment for Milla was watch­ing her go though the pain of con­stantly hav­ing in­jec­tions for blood tests and other treat­ment.

“At one point they sus­pected she might have a blood clot. I was in­ject­ing her morn­ing and night which added up to around 80 in­jec­tions.”

She says there’s been no time to dwell on the sit­u­a­tion.

“You just have to keep go­ing. Ev­ery par­ent in the ward at Starship is do­ing the best they can for their chil­dren.”

Child Can­cer Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Neil Por­te­ous says the ap­peal week pro­vides a ma­jor part of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s fund­ing, which en­ables it to sup­port chil­dren dur­ing treat­ment and re­search projects.

He says it gets no gov­ern­ment fund­ing, which means pub­lic do­na­tions and cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship are vi­tal.

Marnie says hav­ing ac­cess to the foun­da­tion’s drop-in cen­tre and sup­port work­ers has been a huge help.

Col­lec­tors will be out across the city for the ap­peal or visit www.child­cancer.org. nz, phone 0900-4-CHILD (0900-424-453) to do­nate $20 or text BEAD to 206 to do­nate $3.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Get­ting bet­ter: Mt Eden res­i­dent Marnie St John with her daugh­ter Milla Ward, who is re­cov­er­ing from a bat­tle with kid­ney can­cer af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed in Oc­to­ber last year.

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