Freja Elizabeth Wingrove Larsen by her mother Jane.
Freja was diagnosed by luck at the age of 7 months with Infant Leukemia. We were lucky as she was diagnosed by accident. She had no signs of being ill … no bruising… wasn’t pale… a happy “healthy” little girl. That’s what we were told by the allergy doctor at 10.30am Feb 20th 2008. She was sent for a routine blood test as part of the allergy testing, blood taken at 12.00 and we drove home. At 2.30pm I got a phone call that changed our life. It took time to sink in. Who was this crazy person telling us that our baby had cancer?
The poor doctor repeated it 5 times twice to my husband and then to me. “Your daughter has leukemia, there is no doubt, I ran the tests twice, I am so sorry”.
We were directed to Odense University hospital here in Denmark where we live. It took us 2 hours to drive. We were offered an ambulance, but said no, I don’t know why we said no, I just don’t think the gravity of the situation had hit us. The whole way there we were thinking this is a mistake.
When we got to the ward we were met by 5 people, doctors and nurses. A welcoming committee! Freja was held down and they took vials and vials of blood. That was hard. A young doctor tried to be optimistic… A.L.L is the good one, 9 out of 10 kids survive. We took those words and focused on that 9 out of 10 survive, of course Freja was one of them. Freja was hooked to a drip and the machine beeped like crazy most of the night. Freja’s veins were so small that the pressure warning went off every 5 minutes. It didn’t matter as we weren’t sleeping anyway.
The next day Freja went to the observation room and they gave her a CVK line, scanned her brain, checked her eyes and dug out a piece of bone marrow for testing. Phew that was over, only it wasn’t. The Consultant oncologist came in from his holiday to speak to us. He told us calmly that Freja wasn’t in the 9/10 group. Because she was so little she didn’t have childhood leukemia, she had Infant leukemia and the survival statistics for that are a dreadful 40%. Our world fell apart for the second time in 24 hours. He promised to do his best and save our little girl, and he did!!!
Freja went through hell during the 6 months of Intensive treatment. Her skin peeled off, she had life threatening infections, and mouth sores that were bigger than a 50p coin. It’s hard to watch a child go through that and stay positive. Every time we thought… this is it… she would bounce back larger than life. She is amazing.
We just had an amazing thing happen, we reached the 2 year mark since Freja was diagnosed. That 2 year mark means a lot in the life of a baby with Leukemia. It means going OT (off treatment), which is a scary yet wonderful place to be. We are a family that is walking the road of Infant Leukemia. The shadow of cancer walks behind us. Sometimes when things are going well we feel like we have run away from it…. but on the bad days it catches us up. This journey is a lifelong thing, and we pray daily that it is a long journey because anything else means that the cancer caught up and then overtook us.