Seven-year-old Jasmine can be a little shy at first, but once she opens up she’s a lot of fun – she loves dancing, arts and crafts, and is a keen animal lover. She also loves to get outside and play sport whenever she can, and is full of energy. That’s why her mum, Vanessa, knew something wasn’t right when she had a cold that lingered much longer than normal. Jasmine was pale and lethargic, not herself at all.
Vanessa took Jasmine to the doctor, who recommended some blood tests – just in case. It’s what any parent would do, never suspecting anything would be seriously wrong. It was the day before Mother’s Day when Jasmine had the blood tests. Mother’s Day will never be the same again for this family.
The test results came back, and within hours their whole lives had been turned upside down. Jasmine had leukaemia. “At that stage I didn’t realise that there couldn’t be any treatment done in Canberra,” said Vanessa. “And so one minute they’re saying ‘I think your daughter has leukaemia’, and the next minute they’re saying ‘We’re going to get you on a helicopter straight to Sydney’.”
At the beginning, Jasmine didn’t understand what was going to happen. When they arrived at the hospital, she saw some other children who had lost their hair as a result of their chemotherapy. Vanessa remembers her saying, “Oh, Mum, they’re so much sicker than me. At least I’m not going to lose my hair or anything.” It broke Vanessa’s heart to have to explain that the treatment she would be going through would, in fact, make her lose her hair, and much more.
Ten months of intensive chemotherapy started straight away. Vanessa said they never would have gotten through Jasmine’s treatment without Starlight. “Jasmine’s reward after having her chemo was to be able to go up to the Starlight Express Room at the end of the day,” she said. “And if she was too sick, I could call the Captain Starlights and they’d come down to the ward with some activities for her. It worked really well.”