Joyce the Role Model
18 Feb 2011
Brave eight-year-old Joyce Singh was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2009. Read about her experience here
Joyce Singh is a natural in front of the camera. Smiling confidently throughout our Appeal photo-shoot, the bubbly eight-year-old aspires to be a professional model. However there was a time in her life where her smile was not so radiant.
In November 2009, Joyce, who lives in Pukekohe was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Joyce’s father, Rovin Singh, said they noticed something was wrong with their daughter when she was having a constant pain in her ear and a noticeably swollen stomach. Joyce’s mother, Tarusila Singh, took her to the doctor who then referred Joyce to Middlemore hospital for further blood tests. Later that night Rovin and Tarusila received a phone call from the hospital advising them to bring Joyce in immediately. Upon arrival at Middlemore hospital doctors met with Joyce’s family and informed them of the test results. “When I heard leukaemia was a type of cancer I cried and cried…I was so shocked…we thought we were going to lose our daughter,” says Tarusila. Doctors explained to the family that treatment was available and referred Joyce to Starship.
Joyce commenced treatment which included chemotherapy and injections. Prior to being diagnosed, Joyce had long hair which she loved to wear in different ways she styled herself. Shortly after starting chemotherapy, Tarusila noticed that a clump of Joyce’s hair had fallen out when she was washing her hair. Both mother and daughter were very upset by what they saw and the days following this, Joyce would wake up to find her pillow covered with her hair. Joyce had seen an episode of America’s Next Top Model, her favourite television show, where one of the models had her hair shaved off. Joyce commented to her mum “I can still be a model even with no hair.” Later that day Tarusila agreed to do the unthinkable and shave off the rest of Joyce’s hair.
Having collected 900 Beads of Courage for every treatment and procedure she has endured, Joyce says her favourite beads are those which she has received from having injections as each one has given her more confidence. Joyce is currently having maintenance treatment and her family is grateful for the support they have received along their journey. “The staff at Starship are so good, and together with the Child Cancer Foundation, they have had a major part in supporting my family in everyway. With all this help I can see Joyce is recovering very well,” says Rovin. The family commented that Joyce’s grandparents have also been very supportive, along with members from their Christian Family Centre in Pukekohe. Joyce is looking forward to starting school again and will be in Year four at Valley School.
Despite the challenging journey throughout her treatment, Joyce and her family are able to see a positive side. “Joyce has two younger sisters, Esther and Shilo, and knowing what their big sister has gone through has brought the sisters closer together,” says Rovin.
The courage she has shown throughout her treatment is admirable and many of her family members look up to her. Tarusila says, “through Joyce we have learnt that we can really tackle the hard times no matter what they are. Hard times will come by but we won’t give up. It seems that Joyce is not only a model but also a role model to those around her.
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