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Brave Matilda to farewell chemotherapy

Published:  01 August 2019

For the majority of four-year-old Matilda Knight’s short life, she has been subject to gruelling chemotherapy to treat an inoperable tumour on her brain, but this Friday she will ring the bell to mark the end of her treatment.

Matilda was first diagnosed with the brain tumour, clinically known as pilocytic astrocytoma, at only five months old.

Matilda’s mum, Susan Knight, said she knew something was wrong when Matilda was screaming, vomiting and had irregular eye movements.

“We ended up in the emergency department at The Townsville Hospital where an MRI identified a tumour on her brain and from there the tumour was biopsied,” she said.

“From there we determined that this was a tumour that could only be shrunk, not removed.

“After that we were sent to Brisbane to see specialists which marked the beginning of a really long road ahead for Matilda and our family.”

Susan said that while the oncologist was confident Matilda would survive, she thought that she might lose her daughter.

“Matilda received chemotherapy until she was around 20 months and luckily this was successful,” old she said.

“Once her treatment was complete life returned to normal for us for a while; Matilda was able to go to kindy and we continued to monitor her every three months.”

Twelve months ago, a routine check-up found that Matilda’s tumour had grown again, signalling the beginning of more chemotherapy under the care of The Townsville Hospital Paediatric oncology team.

Since then Matilda’s family, including Susan, Dad Simon and brothers Frank and Angus watched her endure six-week cycles of treatment to shrink the tumour.

“It has been really difficult on our family since Matilda’s diagnosis,” Susan said.

“For Matilda, she can be very cranky about her treatment but sadly it has become her normal.

“She is a little girl who is loving with her family, loves music, going to the park and loves Emma Wiggle but it can be so hard on her and you often don’t see the best side of her when she comes to hospital.”

Susan said that seeing Matilda ring the bell would be a euphoric moment in what has been another trying year.

“Our life has been put on hold,” she said.

“Chemotherapy has meant Matilda has become neutropenic at times which lowered her immunity.

“She hasn’t been able to go to kindy consistently, go to the shops, water parks or do normal things that children do.

“As a family we haven’t been on any holidays either, so we are looking forward to resuming some sense of normality.”

Susan said the future was now about preparing Matilda for school.

“She’ll be doing an extra year of kindy to make sure she is ready as well as working closely with physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists to help with some of the developmental delays that have occurred due to her tumour,” she said.

“Her oncologist in Brisbane is happy with where she is at and we are looking forward to seeing Matilda start to live life how a little girl should.”

Contact Public Affairs 4433 1016

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