Summary July 2008

Sunday, 20th July

We all travelled up to Sydney together to start her third round of chemo. Unfortunately, however, she had to have her treatment in the isolation room because she had contracted conjunctivitis and still had a niggling cough. She required antibiotic eye drops. Her eyes looked pretty bad and gunky for the first few days. Olivia was quite frightened when she awoke one morning to find her eyes were glued shut with gunk! Luckily, the infection cleared up by the end of the week.

Wednesday, 23rd July

We had a call to say that Olivia’s fairy dress was ready. As soon as Olivia had finished her treatment for the day, we headed off to Fairyland in Mosman to pick up the dress. Olivia was incredibly excited. The fairy dress was beautiful and very, very bright (it just wouldn’t be Olivia if it wasn’t!). Of course, we then had to fit out Sarah with some fairy attire. She got a gorgeous skirt and top with a cute little flower headdress. She was the most beautiful little flower. We were very lucky that the owner of the shop had authorized the manager to give a rather significant discount (I think it worked out that Olivia’s fairy dress was free!) because she had been moved by Olivia’s story on 60 Minutes. Very generous!
Of course, from that day on Olivia wanted to wear her fairy dress. She wore it down to dinner at RMH and didn’t want to take it off for bed. She also wore it to her last day of chemo where she wowed all of the doctors and nurses. The dress was huge and certainly stood out. It had layers and layers of tulle, as well as many roses attached. It certainly wasn’t the ideal dress for hospital especially when it came to using the bed pans! Anyway, Olivia loved it and the attention she got from wearing it. She certainly stood out.
For me, the week was quite turbulent. Because we were so disappointed that our everyday hero website had not been promoted on 60 Minutes (only on their website, but you had to look for it), I decided to approach The Canberra Times, hoping that they might promote our fundraiser. I heard from one lovely journalist, Jessica Wright (Today columnist) who was more than happy to cover our story and promote our fundraiser. However, another journalist took over and was given the mandate for our story. Unfortunately, the interview had to be done over the phone as we were in Sydney. To my disappointment, Olivia and I were interviewed by a journalist who came across to me as being quite young and inexperienced. I don’t think she had done much in terms of research to find out more about our family and some of her questioning was inappropriate. For example, she asked Olivia if she thought having cancer was scary. I was dumbfounded! I couldn’t believe that a journalist with even an ounce of integrity would pose such a question to a little 4 year old girl. I quickly snatched the phone away and ended the interview with Olivia. She also asked me if I ever cried. What kind of question is that?!
After the interview, I felt uncomfortable and was concerned about what this journalist was going to write. I simply wanted to raise further awareness and direct the public to our fundraising site. The article appeared on page 5 the following day. There was a beautiful, enlarged photo of Olivia I had taken of her on the Civic merry-go-round. The article was okay but I was absolutely livid when I noticed, at the end of the article, that the journalist had not correctly printed our everyday hero web address. That was the condition under which I did the story and I made that very clear to the journalist prior to the interview. I was so angry and upset as I had invested a lot of time and energy into establishing the fundraising, ranging from the 60 Minutes gig to organising the appeal. In the midst of all of this, I was still taking care of Olivia. I rang the editor (and got the editor’s assistant), explained the dilemma and requested that they rectify their mistake. After much discussion and a few tears (on my part), the editor’s assistant told me that he would do what he could but it would involve a lot of leg work on his part and that the most I could expect would be a tiny correction in some corner of the paper. There was no apology. I felt incredibly let down and vowed to stay away from the media.
Shortly afterwards, the journalist who did the story returned my phone call, only to say that she had put in the correct web address and that ‘someone else’ had changed it. Yeah, right! On a brighter note, the lovely Jessica Wright contacted me to express her disappointment over the omission and assured me that she would place a small article about Olivia with the correct web address in her daily column. I was incredibly grateful and really appreciated her warmth and compassion towards our family’s situation.
We returned to Canberra late on Friday night. Unfortunately, there was an accident just near Sydney airport during peak hour, so it ended up being a very long trip. 

Tuesday, 29th July

Overall, Olivia has felt quite well throughout her treatment, though has unfortunately had to spend a lot more time in hospital than we had hoped for. We once again ended up in Canberra Hospital on Tuesday night with the usual fever and tiredness, as well as low blood counts. She required several blood transfusions over the course of the next few days. Overall, we were in hospital until Saturday afternoon.  Thanks to my mum for helping us out by occasionally staying overnight with Olivia. Once again, the play therapist made the stay a lot more bearable by providing a huge plasma TV, DVDs and other things to amuse Olivia.  Whilst there, she also had a visit from Daphne the Labrador, whose owner works for GHD. They visit the hospital every Thursday as part of their community program. Olivia seems to enjoy patting dogs and has told us that she would like us to get a dog sometime. We may look into this once we know that we will be spending more time at home.

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