Time for Olivia to finally come home
"I HAVE only ever known leukaemia to be a word, now it has a face to it, that face being Olivia."
Those are the words of Olivia Stapleton's dad, Michael, who has watched his little girl fight a day-to-day battle to beat the illness.
But now the nine-year-old, who was first diagnosed in December last year and has been living in Brisbane to attend daily hospital appointments, has received the good news that she can soon come home.
"Olivia can't walk, so when we get home we are going to progress with physiotherapy and hydrotherapy," he said.
"We are in for a long haul and are never out of the woods with leukaemia but are so happy to be able to go home."
Olivia was diagnosed after her parents, Allison Bent and Michael, realised there was something wrong when she broke her legs while trying to get off the toilet.
"She came home one day and said she was a bit sore and couldn't put any weight on her legs and then that happened," he said.
"When we went to the doctors nothing showed up on the scans and leukaemia was the last thing on our minds."
Mr Stapleton said after ongoing concerns and many doctors appointments in Brisbane, Olivia and her family were told that she had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
"It was shocking. It felt like I had been knocked for a six," he said.
"But at the same time the only thing I could think of was, okay, well, how are we going to fix this."
The months that followed were a whirlwind for the family, who packed up their lives in Bundaberg to be by their daughter's side.
Mr Stapleton said the disease had affected them all in various ways and Olivia had been through some agonising times in hospital.
"There have been that many side affects with the chemo, that's why we have been in Brisbane for so long," he said.
"On Christmas she formed a clot in the brain, it was quite scary.
"She wasn't herself that day and I remember she sat up on the lounge all of a sudden and said, 'Something is happening, I am going to die'."
Mr Stapleton said now, with only a few physiotherapy appointments left, the family had been given the green light to make their way home.
He said the past year had been a curtain to the real world, but Olivia had remained strong.
"She has grown so much in that time, gone from our youngest to maturing in a way that you wouldn't believe," he said.
"They are resilient, these kids, and I have come to know over this time that it is your children that make you stronger."
With their lives consumed by doctors appointments, Mr Stapleton said things back at home had been left on the back-burner.
"When your child's life hangs in the balance the last thing you worry about is paying your mortgage," he said.
A mycause campaign to assist in covering Olivia's medical costs has been set up. To donate, click here