Children’s cancer doctor inspired by girl, 5, who campaigned to help others while battling fatal infection
A pediatric cancer doctor who works at Great Ormond Street Hospital has spoken of the difficulties of seeing the effects of cancer on children almost every day.
Katie, 33, from London, first had experience treating a child with cancer in Great Ormond Street as a medical student.
Now, 10 years later, she sees the impact of cancer on children and young adults almost every day.
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She said: “You cannot begin to understand what a child and their families must go through. It’s devastating.
“Their treatment is really intense and there are also the consequences of them being very unwell and spending a lot of time in the hospital away from school, friends and family.
Katie says her patients gave her songs to listen to while running the marathon
“It is an undeniably difficult task and it can be so tragic at times. We learn to be strong for our patients, but in the end we are people too, and I’ve found that running helps me emotionally process and deal with what we see at work.”
Katie took care of a certain five-year-old girl, Kaiya, who left a lasting impression on her because of Kaiya’s desire to help other children, despite being unwell herself.
Kaiya’s story has been shared with permission from her family.
Four years ago, Kaiya was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia that no child had ever survived.
She urgently needed a stem cell transplant to cure her of the leukemia.
Her family launched an incredible international awareness campaign and more than 40,000 new donors registered, giving Kaiya and many other cancer patients a chance to survive.
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A donor was found and Kaiya underwent a transplant in August 2018. After the transplant, Kaiya was cured of her leukemia.
But Kaiya then contracted an adenovirus infection that attacked her kidneys and liver.
The five-year-old fought an incredible battle that lasted longer than any other child treated for the same condition, but she was unable to overcome the virus due to her weakened immune system and, tragically, Kaiya died in January 2019.
“She left a lasting impression on me,” Katie said.
“I was fortunate to have known her and her family and although she is sadly no longer with us, her unwavering positivity and selfless desire to help others in similar situations, and to raise awareness for cancer research and the importance of registering as a donor left an impression on me that I would like to help pay in advance.”
Despite the difficulties of the job, Katie also says it’s “hugely rewarding” to be able to help where she can and to see the direct translation of cancer research in labs and studies to help patients on the wards.
She said: “It is a huge privilege because these families, as cancer doctors, trust you and let you into their lives as they go through such a difficult journey”.
“In September, I got photos from families of kids going back to school after seeing how bad they were in the hospital — and that’s just unbelievable to see.”
Katie will run the London Marathon for Children with Cancer UK on Sunday to raise money to support the discovery and development of new treatments, and to raise awareness of the invaluable work the charity is doing to help children and their families. support through cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Twelve families in the UK receive the news every day that their child has cancer. That’s why Katie says it’s so important to raise money for her chosen charity.
She said: “I see first-hand the work Children with Cancer UK is doing to support those affected, as well as to support doctors and researchers in developing new treatment options, which is why I wanted to give something back”.
“The kids I’ve worked with will definitely stay in my mind while running. Some of them even suggested songs to put on my playlist.”
If you’d like to donate to her fundraiser, click the link
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