Upwey parents running for Leukaemia

Left to right: Jordi (Maisy’s older brother), Louisa (mum) Willow (Maisy’s younger brother) and Dave (step dad) (Supplied)

By Shamsiya Hussainpoor

The aspiring to inspire Upwey parents ran the Gold Coast Marathon virtually on Sunday 7 July to raise funds for Leukaemia Foundation.

While David Leslie and his wife, Louisa Leslie are frequent runners, this year’s run and fundraising was unlike any other.

At the start of June, their daughter Maisy Leslie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cancer – a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells, it’s also the most common childhood cancer.

“I was definitely in shock, but a mother’s instinct, I sort of knew something wasn’t quite right,” Ms Leslie said.

She said there weren’t many visible symptoms other than Maisy feeling tired after school – which she thought was normal since Maisy was entering into her teenage years.

“I thought she was just bumming around a little bit, but then during netball, I noticed she would get tired very easily and she began to look pale,” Ms Leslie said.

“One weekend, we noticed her lymph nodes in her neck had popped up on both sides – like the size of blueberries thrown up into her neck and into her skull.”

In a 24-hour period, the lymph nodes flared up through her neck, under the armpit and over her body.

Ms Leslie rushed her daughter to the hospital; she was then referred to a paediatrician.

At first, they thought it was a virus, but four days later after several blood tests, results showed the 12-year-old Maisy had leukaemia in her blood – she was then sent to Monash Children’s Hospital.

Maisy’s diagnosis is not genetic related.

According to the Leukaemia Foundation, in Australia, on a daily average 53 people, or one person in every 27 minutes are told they have blood cancer.

The organisation provides a range of support services to Australians affected by blood cancer – these services include accommodation while they are undergoing treatment, assistance with transport to appointments, education, and information around their specific type of cancer, as well as other practical, financial, emotional and mental health support.

These services are available to individuals and families impacted by blood cancer living in metropolitan, regional, rural, and remote areas.

The Leukaemia Foundation has found that blood cancers combined is the second highest cause of cancer related deaths in the country making blood cancer one of the nation’s most deadly cancers.

Currently more than 140,000 people are living with blood cancer or a related blood disorder in Australia today.

Mr Leslie has setup a fundraising page via the Leukaemia Foundation to help the organisation continue delivering its direct support and services for families who are impacted by blood cancer.

So far, more than $12,000 have been raised.

It is every parent’s worst nightmare to hear that their child has the monstrous disease.

But the 12-year-old’s parents said they have been overwhelmed with their family’s and community’s support – they don’t feel alone in this challenging journey ahead.

The Leslie family extends their deepest gratitude to everyone who donated, and they hope the community continues to shed a light in their path by donating to Maisy’s cause to take a stand against blood cancer.

On Sunday, Ms Leslie finished the half marathon (21.1 km) in just over 2 and a half hours.

“I’m either keep getting sick or having to pull out because of an injury, this was my third attempt at a half marathon,” she said.

“I pulled out of training because Maisy got sick, I ran but not for a personal best or anything – I was just getting the kilometres done and raise funds for a cause that’s very important to me.”

“Maybe one day, I will return to do a proper half marathon where I am in a better position and trained.”

Mr Leslie, Maisy’s stepfather ran his second full marathon (42.2 km) on the weekend and he finished just under four hours.

They finished their runs at 2pm at the Fat Goat in Upwey on Sunday.

The couple have done several fun-runs to raise money for different charity organisations in the past.

Though running with a crowd of people, in a warmer temperature and a flatter surface seems a lot more desirable and easier than running in a hilly route, by yourself and in Melbourne’s cold weather – but for Maisy’s parents the reason behind their challenge was not only stronger but also extremely important.

“I’ve got a really strong network of friends and people that we know through our corporate lives, and we thought this was a great opportunity to genuinely raise money for a foundation that’s been really important towards Children’s Cancer Research, specifically leukaemia and blood cancers – that’s the main drive for me and Louisa,” he said.

To help with Maisy’s treatment, donate here: fundraise.leukaemia.org.au/fundraisers/Maisytaylor/running-for-leukaemia?