This is a strange story for me to write. It will at times be a sad story, in many ways it will be happy and perhaps even funny. It will be an adventure that entails anxiety, flirting with danger, fortitude in the face of adversity and many attempts to look on the bright side. There will also no doubt be moments of anguish and despair, and a lot of uncertainty. It's a story that will hopefully be cathartic for me, but also interesting and perhaps informative or even entertaining for others.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mikayla Emily Francis 27/11/2003- 13/12/2010

As I finished treatment and received the news of being cancer free a few months ago, the hardest part of my cancer journey came to end. Sadly, the journey began for a family at my school. Mikayla Francis, a 6 year old student, was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer.

This news rocked the community and I think that many students just assumed she would receive treatment and be back at school in a few months (particularly after seeing my situation). Even after the horrific confirmation of her treatment being unsuccessful, their innocent confidence in her recovery was heartbreaking.

As adults we look on wondering why, struggling with helplessness and the uncomfortable feeling of guilt we have about being glad it’s not someone in our family. In my case, realising how easily that could be me.

I remember Andrew, Mikayla’s Dad, saying that when telling her that she was going to die, she asked why they couldn’t just mix up another chemo. How do we tell children that the doctors they have faith in to fix everything, don’t have all the answers?

I really feel for oncologists, in particular paediatric oncologists. How do they bear the pain of losing patients? The pain of trying everything they have at their disposal and nothing works. It must take so much strength to go back to work each day not knowing which way things will go for your patient. You could save their life or you could be rendered helpless.

Cancer medicine has made great progress and has bought joy to many patients like me. Sadly, it hasn’t progressed enough. A story like Mikayla’s brings home the importance of appreciating those that devote their time to cancer research. We all need to donate generously to the hard work of these people, as it is this patient, persistent and often unrecognised work that will in the future allow oncologists to be able to save every life.

Mikayla’s journey did not have the right ending, but I hope there are things we can all learn from it. To appreciate all we have, to give us the ability to put things into perspective and to treasure every moment with have with our family and friends.

Everyone that has seen Mikayla’s story can see her strength, courage and bravery. For those of us that knew Mikayla, we can vouch for her beautiful nature. She was a kind, supportive and fun person, a wonderful friend to all. We will always remember the cute, squeaky little voice that never stopped chatting.

Mikayla, you are an absolute inspiration to us all. I feel so proud to have had the pleasure of knowing such a wonderful person. There will be a new star shining brightly in the sky tonight.

Rest in peace beautiful girl. xx


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your journey. My dad has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's and just finished his 2nd chemo session. Your blog is so encouraging and is helping me to understand what may come ahead.

Anonymous said...

RIP to the most lovely little Poppet. We are forever changed for knowing her. Mikayla was trully a little superstar wasnt she?

What can you say to the incredible people at the Royla Children's and all their dedication, courage and professionalism. Paeds Oncology is an incredible sector of medicine and they need everyone's support. The RCH good friday appeal will take on a whole new meaning from now on wont it.

As was Mikayla's way - we have to pay it forward, look out for each other, stand by your mates and protect the ones who might be struggling. Such wisdom in a tiny little child. Adults have so much to learn from children. Mikayla - what a wonderful teacher you are - just like someone else we know! xxx LR

Caleb Francis said...

Thank you for spreading my sisters story