18 Mar 2016
Two days after being checked by her doctor, Nikita and her parents were on an emergency flight to hospital in Auckland where they were told the devastating news that the then five year old had cancer.
Nikita was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) and would immediately start treatment that would see them in hopsital, far from home for six weeks.
“We were away from family, friends and familiar places, all of us were all very scared of what was to come,” says mum Rose.
“But rather than focus on the upcoming treatments ahead, we made the most of the good days and had adventures.”
This positive philosophy has seen the family through many of the ups and downs of a cancer diagnosis, especially when Nikita lost her hair because of treatment.
“Losing her hair was very difficult for Nikita,” Rose explains.
“But her Aunty, godmother and I all decided to shave our heads in support of what she was going through. By removing the significance of having hair, we were able to show Nikita that she was not alone in her battle.”
Support through treatment and beyond
“Child Cancer Foundation has been an amazing support for us from the very beginning,”
“We would be regularly visited on the hospital ward by our Family Support Coordinator, who would sit and talk through any of our questions or just listen. She was wonderful with both Nikita and her younger sister Danika.”
Rose says the individualised support from the Foundation meant they received what they needed to help with both time in hospital and when they returned home to Gisborne.
“In the hospital it was the thoughtful things, the boredom-busters, the information that all made life a bit easier when we were so far from home,”
“Upon returning to Gisborne we meet with Cheryl, our local Child Cancer Foundation Family Support Coordinator, who checks in to see how we are doing, and offers help when we need it.”
Nikita also received a Personal Development Grant from the Foundation which helped contribute towards the costs of her ballet lessons.
“Ballet can have many benefits for young children physically, mentally, socially, and more importantly is fun.”
Nikita’s dad, Karl, attended the Child Cancer Foundation’s recent Dad and Grandad's camp in Pirongia, which helped him to share experiences with other dads while doing fun activities such as canoeing, archery, horse riding and abseiling.
Strength and courage
Rose says that throughout treatment her daughter has been extremely strong, carrying on her schooling through the correspondence school.
Nikita’s strength and courage were recognised when she received a Young Achievers award for Outstanding Determination from The Correspondence School.
The isolation away from friends was tough for Nikita, but at the end of last year she was able to return to school, ballet, gymnastics and cricket - all things she really loves.
How you can help
The Child Cancer Foundation is a nationwide organisation that works hard to reduce the impact of cancer. A donation from you will help us provide the support families need from that terrible time of diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond.