‘The worst days of my life’

Eloise was diagnosed with leukaemia

Last year, Erin Waters experienced first-hand the impact of leukaemia – but was determined to make a difference. Here she tells her story.

My niece, Eloise, is four years old and she is a feisty, smart, active little girl.

On 27 November she went to kindy as usual but was later sent home with a temperature. I’m a GP and so my sister and Eloise’s mum, Celia, phoned me to get her in for an appointment. She mentioned Eloise had been getting fevers and bruising so I sent them to the hospital for a blood test.

The doctors at the hospital thought Eloise was ok, took some blood tests and then sent her home. That evening, my sister was called back to the hospital and told her daughter had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Eloise was admitted to hospital, had a bone marrow biopsy and started on chemotherapy within 24 hours.

It was horrible seeing my beautiful niece go through tests and procedures, and very traumatic for Eloise. The first couple of days after her diagnosis were the worst days of my life. Celia didn’t sleep for the week she was in hospital; the whole family was deeply affected.

From the outset my sister was really worried about Eloise losing her hair. Eloise is now well into her treatment and as she faces losing her hair, it doesn’t seem that bad compared to all the other things she has had to endure.

She’s had three blood transfusions, two general anaesthetics, two rounds of intrathecal chemotherapy (into the spinal fluid), countless bloods tests and four rounds of chemotherapy. Thanks to previous research, Eloise’s condition has a really good prognosis but she still faces two years of chemotherapy.

Erin Waters is taking part in World's Greatest ShaveLeukaemia causes

A month into treatment and Eloise is going as well as can be expected. We know so little about what causes the random genetic mutations that cause leukaemia and what can be done to prevent it. That’s why I’m so passionate about raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland.

And that’s why I signed up for World’s Greatest Shave »

I set my shave date for my next scheduled hairdresser appointment. I had never asked anyone (except my dad!) for money before and within a week I had asked everyone I had ever met to sponsor me. I emailed, phoned, sent text messages, wrote letters and posted silly pictures on Facebook.

My colleagues at Wellers Hill Medical Centre got on board, as did local restaurant, Azafran; Eloise’s kindy, Active Kids Mt Gravatt; and Eloise’s ballet school, JAL dance.

I initially set my target at $2000 and wasn’t confident I’d reach it but ended up raising $23,800 in just three weeks! I shaved my hair last month at Wellers Hill Medical Centre and was even joined by my dad and boss, Dr Nick Gianarakis.

Eloise has a long road ahead of her but I feel better knowing my decision to shave my hair will help find a cure and support blood cancer patients when they need it the most.

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