Girl needs help in leukaemia fight

By Michele McPherson

A young Tauranga couple face a harrowing six months hoping their gravely ill baby daughter stays well enough to undergo a bone-marrow transplant.

They are calling on the generosity of the Western Bay community to help them see her through.

In September 2010, Sheree Roose, 24, and her partner, Tim Eagle, 27, became the proud parents of seemingly healthy twin girls, Sativa and Indee.

"They were premature but nothing major," Miss Roose said.

But when the twins were 4-months-old, a once, happy-go-lucky, vibrant Sativa began having difficulty feeding, cried often and appeared to be in intense pain.

"It was a screaming cry instead of a gentle cry like she used to have," Miss Roose said.

A doctor told the concerned first-time mother her daughter was just fussy or had colic, before a trip to hospital revealed Sativa looked pale in comparison to her sister and tests suggested childhood cancer.

She was rushed to Starship Children's Hospital, where she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

For the last nine months, the couple, who also have full-time care of Mr Eagle's 3-year-old son, Bailey, have travelled to and from Auckland while Sativa undergoes intense chemotherapy treatment.

Now 13 months old, Sativa has spent fewer than 50 days at home since her diagnosis and collected about 1000 coloured beads, each representing an event or procedure on her cancer journey - a course of antibiotics, a fever, a lumber puncture or losing her hair.

Things were finally looking up for the young family, with Sativa having maintenance chemotherapy for the ALL, when a routine lumbar puncture on Monday last week found she had developed an additional central nervous-system leukaemia which attacks the spine and brain cavity.

The news shocked the family, who had thought their young daughter was on the road to recovery.

"She's the most well she's been since she was born," Miss Roose said.

A second lumbar puncture was performed on Thursday and, after an anxious wait, the results revealed some hope - provided Sativa could stay well until she was old enough to have a bone-marrow transplant.

But the couple suffered another blow last week when their only vehicle broke down and they were told it wasn't worth fixing.

The couple were also due to get married this month.

"Obviously, we haven't had the means or the funds to do it," Miss Roose said.

While the couple had considered moving to Auckland to be closer to Starship, home needed to be their sanctuary, Miss Roose said.

"Coming home is amazing for us, it's just a nice feeling to be at home."

Having watched the couple's struggle over the past year, one of their friends, Laura Rowe, contacted the Bay of Plenty Times asking if anyone could offer them some help.

"Their last year has just been manic, not only dealing with a very sick wee girl but trying to give Indee all the opportunities she needs too," she said.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to Sativa's family can deposit funds in account number ANZ R Beaton 01-0434-0276055-03 or visit the Facebook page .

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

ALL is caused by the abnormal division of bone marrow stem cells - which damage the controlling genes of the cells - and a reduction in the number of normal cells. The immature cells, usually referred to as blast cells, do not function properly.

ALL is the most common type of leukaemia in children. It also occurs in adolescents and adults but with less frequency. The disease can appear suddenly and progress rapidly.

Source: Leukemia and Blood Foundation website

- Bay of Plenty Times

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