Meet Maddy - our Footy Colours Day champion who is as strong as she is sweet.
Maddy is a bright and cheerful eleven-year-old who is currently excelling at school and enjoying life as any normal young girl would. But Maddy’s story is different from her friends and peers.
In June 2013, at just five years old, Maddy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
Maddy was started on chemotherapy treatment straight away to remove the cancerous cells from her body. Four months before this was due to end, unfortunately, Maddy relapsed and the decision was made for Maddy to receive a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. In total Maddy’s treatment took 5 years.
“It’s just another challenge in life that you’ve got to face. Unfortunately you’re facing it at five years of age. Everyone has different challenges. And so we just kept reinforcing that throughout treatment.” Lori Maddy’s mum explains.
With so much time spent in hospital during an important developmental age, Fight Cancer Foundation’s education support program helped Maddy stay engaged with her education.
“The education program was perfect because it keeps them mentally stimulated. It keeps them actively engaged in life. And also for her social skills [it was important] because it’s very isolating so if she can go into a classroom environment with other kids it’s still giving them some kind of interaction.”
Lori continues, “We can’t fault it. It was fantastic. We went into this whole situation not knowing anything so to have a program like that supporting kids is absolutely amazing... To know that she could sit with these professionals and get the guidance that she needed was just amazing”.
On days when Maddy didn’t feel well enough to leave her bed to attend group learning sessions, especially when she was receiving her life-saving bone marrow transplant, the teachers from the program were able to visit her bedside to continue her learning.
“Someone would come into our room and read with her. We had an hour every day with someone [from the education program] coming into our room. Every single day doing one-on-one with her. So we were never without someone. They were always there. And all the work that she did in that time she still actually has now displayed around her room”.
For five years Maddy’s schooling was affected, one of which she was out of school completely. For Maddy the program meant that she didn’t have to drop a year level or play catch up to her peers.
“When you miss so much school you’ll expect that you are going to have to catch up to where the other kids were. But she never needed to because she’d been supported throughout the whole time. The program enabled her to go back into school at the level that she left.”
Currently Maddy is completing year five at school and loves both English and maths. When asked to sum up the importance of education support for kids with cancer Lori had this to say.
“I would say donate because education is just the key to life and to happiness. To keep your mind healthy and active it’s so important because these kids who are stuck in hospital have had their normal lives ripped out from underneath their feet.”
Donating to or hosting your own Footy Colours Day event will help kids with cancer just like Maddy keep up with school while they are in hospital.