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Joanne : Maddie

Published on December 29, 2023.

Story from Joanne : Maddie

Maddie was 12 years old. She came to us via a family member she was 6 years old and she instantly bonded with our son.

In mid-2021, Maddie had a couple of strange sounding breathing attacks followed by a sneeze of bright red blood. Our local vet thought it was pretty inconspicuous and gave her some anti inflammatories and antibiotics. Things settled for a while but then recurred. By late November, when the bleeding and strange sneezing/breathing issues continued (which we came to learn were reverse sneezing episodes), we took Maddie for CT scanning to find out if something more serious was going on. Unfortunately, on 25 November 2021, Maddie was diagnosed with nasal carcinoma. We were initially told that there was little that could be done.

Not being prepared to give up on our girl, we started researching online and learned that there might be options for treatment. We contacted a local specialist clinic who suggested the possibility of surgery and non-targetted radiation therapy. But then we contacted SASH North Ryde and got to speak with Dr Elias Gumpel – who was patient and understanding and answered all of our questions. Dr Elias and the team at SASH could offer a very targetted type of radiation (IMRT) which would typically cause fewer side effects but provide a better prognosis than standard radiation could. The facilities and equipment at SASH are state-of-the-art and the same treatment was not available in Victoria.

We made the decision to travel from Melbourne to Sydney for Maddie to have treatment, which would mean leaving her in the care of SASH for 3 weeks. She spent that time under the fabulous care of Dr Elias, Dr Nick Lai and the Radiation Oncology team – having the run of the ward and even being treated to a trip to Bondi.

Maddie’s cancer was stage 4 at the time of her admission. We knew she had a tough fight ahead of her. She underwent CT scanning and planning, and 10 sessions of radiation, all under expert anesthesia.

The treatment was as successful as it could be – Maddie returned to SASH for a follow-up CT in April 2022 and the tumour was no longer apparent, her breathing had improved and the bloody noses had stopped.

Unfortunately for Maddie, the tumour returned very aggressively and we lost her in October 2022, just before her 13th birthday. We had an extra 9 months of quality time with her as a result of the care she received at SASH and for that, we are incredibly grateful.

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