It's been six weeks since Sativa Eagle has jumped on the family trampoline, touched grass, felt the kiss of winter on her bonny cheeks.

It's been six weeks since she slept in the same room as twin sister Indee and stayed up with her, cuddling, kissing, and talking.

But on Friday, she got to do all of those things.

The 21-month-old, who suffers from leukaemia, returned home to Mount Maunganui on Thursday night for the first time since she underwent a bone marrow transplant on May 24.


The little girl, who has won hearts in the Western Bay of Plenty for her courageous fight against cancer, is making incredible progress.

She is putting on weight. Her rosy cheeks are round again. She has her chubby knuckles back.

Her mother Sheree Roose said Sativa's immune system was now like that of a normal child's and, as a mother, it was the most incredible feeling in the world.

"Her doctors are completely and utterly totally amazed at how well she's done," Miss Roose said proudly.

Sativa, who has battled leukaemia exhaustively since she was 4-months-old, was full of smiles yesterday despite being tired.

Following her transplant, Sativa has been receiving chemotherapy but her doses are lower than normal, due to previous health issues with her lungs.

"Since her transplant, all her immune system and blood counts have continued to rise and she's holding her own, really," Miss Roose, 25, said.

The bone marrow was flown in from Germany and all that Miss Roose and her partner Tim Eagle knew about the donor was that he was a 22-year-old man.


The New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry used databases from New Zealand and around the world to find a bone marrow donor when a match could not be found in the family.

"She has blood tests regularly," Miss Roose said. "And because her donor was a male, doctors can tell the difference between her blood and his. It seems to be 100 per cent donor at the moment."

Sativa and her family are living "a week at a time" and things are still "very touch and go". But the positive changes in Sativa are inspiring.

Despite continuing to be fed and medicated through a gastric tube, she is full of life and close to celebrating her second birthday in September.

In another week she will return to Starship Children's Hospital for more tests, and in about three weeks will undergo a lumbar puncture to check the bone marrow has definitely taken.

As parents, Miss Roose and Mr Eagle have been on a journey of highs and lows.

"It's been a very emotional ride. We are each other's rocks," she said. "We've grown up a lot and learnt to support each other when we've needed to be supported. We've learnt to adapt and keep going for the kids."

The pair have put their professional lives on hold as their daughter's illness has resulted in them living between Tauranga and Auckland's Ronald McDonald House.

"And we find it easier being together," Miss Roose said. "We all need each other. I miss Indee and she misses me. We miss each other."

Miss Roose and Mr Eagle, who have three children between them, have been engaged since their twins were born. But lots of things in their lives have been put on hold, including a wedding.

Their rented home is up for sale and they are in desperate need of a new, affordable family home. They do not dwell on life's injustices or hardships though. Despite their misfortunes, they remain remarkably positive.

"Family is everything, and always cherish your children and love them as much as you can," Miss Roose said.

"If it wasn't for Sativa having cancer we wouldn't know this world, and it's a really hard world to be in. Three children Sativa had treatment alongside have passed away (including Whakatane toddler Chace Topperwien last week).

"I've never really experienced any death in my life as much as I have now, especially when it comes to children," Miss Roose said. "There is more to life than having a lot. Life is difficult, but then you have happy moments and you remember why you're doing it."

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