Brave Kate has new life
Four-year-old Kate energy to burn.
She is learning to ride a quad bike, loves swimming and cooking, and can’t wait to go to Matamata Primary like her big brother Fletcher.
It’s a long way from where she was less than two years ago.
Kate was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in August 2011, three months after her third birthday.
In the first year she spent more time in hospital than at home, facing treatment most adults would struggle to deal with.
Kate has earned 1005 beads of courage – provided by the Child Cancer Foundation – that represent the huge mountain she has had to climb to get well again.
Each bead relates to a procedure or experience Kate has had, including nights in hospital, chemotherapy, scans, injections and trips to theatre.
‘‘She knows what she has been through to get them so that makes them special for her,’’ said mum Jackie. ‘‘She’s quite proud of them.’’ Kate had been feeling unwell for about six weeks and had numerous visits to the doctor before she was finally given a blood test.
‘‘Worst nightmare,’’ is the only way Kate’s parents can describe the moment they were told Kate had leukaemia.
Jackie took Kate to Auckland’s Starship Hospital the next day, and within 24 hours she was in theatre having a PICC line put in her arm, a lumbar puncture and a bone marrow aspirate.
After a week in hospital, Kate and Jackie moved into Ronald McDonald House for another six weeks so Kate could start chemotherapy.
Since then, they have made regular trips to Starship for treatment, as well as to Waikato Hospital when Kate picks up an infection.
Spending so much time in hospital with Kate was hard on Jackie, who had two other children, Fletcher, aged five, and Jessie, aged 16 months at the time.
‘‘ It was heartbreaking, every time Kate and I would have to leave for the hospital, I would look back and see their sad little faces in the rearview mirror.’’
Jackie’s husband Marc, who is a sharemilker on his parents’ farm on Tower Rd, stayed behind to keep the farm running and take care of the other kids.
‘‘We wanted to try and keep one of us with the other kids at all times,’’ said Jackie.
‘‘All of our energy has gone into making sure all three kids were taken care of best as possible and to get Kate better.’’
Friends and family – particularly Marc’s parents Janette and Cliff – were a massive help, offering relief milking, dropping off meals and helping to look after Fletcher and Jessie.
‘‘If it wasn’t for them we would have had to sell our cows and move to Auckland,’’ said Jackie.
Neighbours pitched in, cultivating their maize paddock and mowing their hay and silage, meaning Marc could spend some time with Kate in hospital and Jackie could come home to see the other kids.
‘‘I hope people know how much we appreciate their help and generosity,’’ she said.
Kate is now in the maintenance phase of her treatment and is looking forward to starting school in May.
‘‘It makes you really grateful for what you have and to appreciate all the small things,’’ said Jackie. ‘‘We just love being together as a family.’’ The Child Cancer Foundation had been ‘‘wonderful’’ for the last 19 months, providing support for the family, including a much-needed holiday in Taupo and food and petrol vouchers.
March is the foundation’s appeal month and Jackie spent two days last week collecting donations. ‘‘It’s obviously very close to my heart,’’ she said. To make an instant $3 donation text BEAD to 206 or donate online at childcancer.org.nz
Strings of bravery: Matamata four-year-old Kate Diprose, pictured with mum Jackie, has earned more than a thousand beads of courage in her fight against leukaemia.