How you can help two-year-old Sophia fight cancer
TWO-year-old Sophia Billington won't be spending this Christmas at home, but in hospital.
The Brassall toddler was diagnosed with leukaemia on August 5 this year and since then has been living at Lady Cilento Hospital with her parents Hayley and Rob, and her eight-month-old baby sister.
This year has been a whirlwind of tests, treatment and doctors visits for the Billington family but, thanks to an early diagnoses and blood donations, Sophia's outlook is positive.
It was August when Hayley took her youngest daughter Victoria for her six month vaccinations and asked her GP at Brassall what he thought of a rash Sophia had developed.
"Sophia had hand, foot and mouth the week before so I thought the rash was related to that," Hayley said.
"Straight away the doctor said it wasn't and got some blood tests.
"The next day we went back and he told us to pack an overnight bag and go straight to Lady Cilento."
Hayley said she and husband Rob had no idea their daughter had cancer until they arrived at the hospital.
"A team of oncologists were waiting for us when we walked through the door," she recalled.
"They did more blood tests and within hours we were told Sophia had leukaemia.
"Our life turned upside down. The treatment is going as planned but she has ended up pretty sick and in intensive care. We take it day by day."
Rob said quite simply that without people donating blood, plasma, platelets and bone marrow, kids like Sophia wouldn't be alive.
"It's part of her treatment. Sophia needs blood, platelets and plasma," the father of two said.
"Take an hour out of your life to donate blood and join the bone marrow register. You don't realise how important blood and bone marrow donations are until you or a family member need it.
"When you live in hospital you see how many kids need it to survive," Hayley agreed.
After four rounds of chemotherapy, three blood transfusions every month and a constant supply of platelets going into her body since August, young Sophia will return home in 2017.
"At this stage we'll be able to take her home just after Christmas," Rob said.
"She made it into remission after the first round of chemo and they continued the three remaining rounds to make sure they got it all.
"But she will have heart scans for the rest of her life because the drugs can damage the heart, there's a good change she won't be able to have children and the drugs may also increase her risk of getting other cancer.
"It will be something that will be monitored for the rest of her life."
For more on how to donate phone Ipswich Donor Centre on 13 14 95 or visit http://donateblood.com.au.