In February 2012, when Mia was only one, her mum Karina took her to the doctor.

Within six hours, Mia had undergone blood tests and an ultrasound, which identified a tumour on her right kidney. It was pushing on her liver and up against her lungs, and her haemoglobin levels were so low, she required a blood transfusion that evening.

Mia’s dad, former wicket keeper in the Australian cricket team, Brad Haddin, had left for a tour of the West Indies two weeks earlier so Karina was caring for both Mia and Mia’s older brother Zachary and on top of that, Karina was 30 weeks pregnant with their third child. Karina called Brad at what was 6am West Indies time to inform him that their precious daughter had cancer. He immediately relinquished his hard-earned cricket role, packed up and flew back across the globe to be with the family.

 

Mia was assigned an oncologist who suggested that while many signs pointed to her disease being a Wilm’s Tumour however there was a possibility it might be a more aggressive type of cancer called neuroblastoma.

Over six days, still without diagnosis, Mia was given a central line, CT and MIBG scans, biopsies, aspirations and more blood transfusions. Finally, the oncologist delivered the news that Mia did have neuroblastoma and it had metastasised to her shoulders, hips, knees and leg bones. Stage 4 with an MYCN gene – the most advanced stage with the lowest survival rate. To give her any chance of beating the cancer she would need the most aggressive response possible. That meant high dose chemotherapy, surgery, a bone marrow transplant, radiation therapy and immunotherapy – a grueling 14 months of treatment.

Brad was told by the oncologist, “You have a child with cancer. You’re no longer a normal family. There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day anymore.”

Sure enough, on day seven in the hospital, a CT scan under general anesthetic revealed internal bleeding and Mia underwent urgent and unexpected surgery, which saved her life.

‘We could only hope that if she endured some very hard months, now she would have many, many years of life in the future.’ Karina, Mia’s mum

During her treatment Mia was diagnosed with metastatic fractures of her humerus, hip and tibia and had to be confined to her cot. It was expected that she would walk with a limp, and possibly even spend a couple of years in a wheelchair. She underwent a six-hour surgery to remove her tumour, right kidney and adrenal gland and later contracted a sepsis infection, spending four days in the ICU.

 

Mia is now a confident nine-year-old girl, with the only reminders of her ordeal being hearing aids and a large abdominal scar. The Haddin family and extended network have collectively raised more than $50,000 dollars for neuroblastoma research and every year they take part in the Run2Cure Neuroblastoma. This year Mia announced the start of one of the races.

 

More information