By Steph McNicol
The support of the Whittlesea community is a shining light in the Leukaemia battle facing five-year-old Alexis Davies.
After enduring months of hospital visits for her daughter, mother Kirrily Payne is overwhelmed at the support of the community during her family’s tough journey.
Alexis was diagnosed with high risk B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a cancer which affects the B cells in the immune system increasing risk of infection, in July of 2016 at 23 months old.
In the first 10 months after her diagnosis, Alexis and her family lived almost full-time at the Royal Children’s Hospital as she endured pneumonia, broken bones and several other complications throughout her treatment.
In April this year, Alexis suffered two strokes from blood clots to the brain and she was put in an induced coma – as a result she was paralysed on the right side of her body and experienced speech difficulties.
Alexis, now aged five, has come a long way since her diagnosis, but her mother hopes with more treatment, she will return to being the little girl she once was.
Ms Payne said when she and her fiancé Tim Davies looked at moving to Whittlesea, they wanted somewhere to live which reminded them of their life before their daughter’s diagnosis.
“When the doctors said we could look at moving further away from the hospital, Tim and I went for a drive one day to find an area less like the city,” Ms Payne said.
“We wanted it still close enough to the city for appointments, but far enough that it still felt like home.”
Ms Payne said they were happy with their choice despite not knowing many people in Whittlesea.
“For roughly the first year we didn’t know anyone in town except for a couple of our neighbours, but we still felt comfortable with how the community in itself was and everyone was very friendly,” she said.
“Walking down the street or just going to the supermarket, people would say hello, smile or engage in a conversation.”
Unbeknown to Ms Payne, Whittlesea Preschool, where Alexis attends, had been planning a disco event to raise money to support her daughter’s journey.
“We were unaware that there had been talk in the preschool about the disco until only a few weeks before it happened,” she said.
“The kindergarten community have really made us as a family feel welcomed into the town and the people we have met so far have made us feel right at home.
“When we were told about it we were very overwhelmed, it was heart-warming knowing
people care about us and want to help Alexis.”
Ms Payne and Mr Davies are hopeful Alexis will continue to grow stronger as she completes a second year of kindergarten next year.
“She has a very long road ahead with still having a lot of rehabilitation, as well as oncology check-ups, neurology reviews and in the near future discussions with cardiology to close a hole she has in her heart,” Ms Payne said.
“Her teachers and our family have decided another year of kindergarten is needed to help her progress.”