CANCER BATTLE: A movie night fundraiser will be held for Bundaberg girl Olivia Stapleton, who is undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.Photo Contributed
CANCER BATTLE: A movie night fundraiser will be held for Bundaberg girl Olivia Stapleton, who is undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.Photo Contributed Contributed

Can you help Olivia win the battle for her life?

"SHE'S my hero. What she's been through and to still have a smile on her face."

Bundaberg dad Michael Stapleton is in awe of the youngest of his five children, nine-year-old Olivia.

Remaining positive while undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Olivia's diagnosis threw the family's life upside down and they've already spent more than eight months in Brisbane away from home.

Mr Stapleton and partner Allison Bent's 18-year-old son Nathan has put his studies on hold to support his family while Scott, 13, and Brooke, 16, go to the hospital each day where they attend a make-shift school.

"It's just been unfortunate that some of the services aren't available in Bundaberg," Mr Stapleton said.

"They are working to get better oncology services for kids and it would have been good to be able to stay at home."

But until then, Mr Stapleton said he would be staying in Brisbane were the top specialists are located.

Mr Stapleton said their situation was not unique. When they arrived at the Leukaemia Foundation's accommodation village in Dutton Park there were another four Bundaberg families.

"This accommodation provides for regional patients and families but you still have at-home expenses, like rent and electricity, that never stops," he said.

"Talking to the fathers here, the mortgages and the car payments doesn't register any more.

"It's a day-by-day battle. You can't think about what's happening in a month."

Olivia's battle began is November last year.

"She came home from school and had a bit of a limp. There'd been a school sports carnival and we thought she'd just hit the grass running or something," Mr Stapleton said.

"We went to the doctors over the space of about a month and unfortunately it's not the easiest thing to detect leukaemia in the bones. Three scans and nothing had showed up.

"When she didn't want to eat I began to get really concerned."

But it was when Olivia fell at home and fractured her leg that she was rushed to Brisbane and they got the devastating news.

"We just thought it might be a bone deficiency or something other than leukaemia. It was all a bit of a life-stopping thing," Mr Stapleton said.

He said the plan was for Olivia to undergo six months of intensive treatment in Brisbane.

"We're still here. It deviates, there's a lot of speed humps, there's a lot of side effects," he said.

"There was some life-threatening incidents. We've had visits to ICU, that was scary.

"The loss of hair, that was a bit of a shock for her. It comes out in clumps quite quickly.

"For the other kids it was a bit of an eye-opener for them too. But it's amazing how resilient kids can get, not only Olivia but the others as well."

But through the hard times, Olivia continues to handle the challenges with a smile on her face.

"Her school classmates sent cards and get well messages - her face lit up at that," Mr Stapleton said.

While Olivia is nearing the end of the heavy treatment, the family are still taking everything day-by-day and are unsure exactly when they will be able to return home.

Even when they do leave Brisbane they'll have to make regular trips back for ongoing chemotherapy.

To help out financially a movie night fundraiser will be held in September.

"Its more about raising money for Olivia and what she needs," Mr Stapleton said.


You can help:

What: Bridget Jones Baby Premiere

When: 6pm, September 15

Where: Reading Cinema

Cost: $26.50


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