20 December 2013
Maisie Whiting
Maisie was 17 months old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in October 2010. Her mum, Angela, tells her story:

Virus-like symptoms

"We had visited the GP several times with virus-like symptoms but more worryingly Maisie became reluctant to weight bear.  She was almost walking on her own but suddenly refused to stand or take steps.

She was also crying out as if in pain when moving from a lying to sitting position. The GP thought this was probably behavioural, which would pass.

Meningitis symptoms but leukaemia diagnosed

One morning, following another virus, Maisie developed a non-blanching rash on her ankles. Immediately the GP suspected meningitis and we were taken to our local hospital by blue light ambulance.

Following blood tests, meningitis was ruled out but we were told that our little girl had leukaemia. We were transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) that evening where treatment was started immediately.

Intensive treatment to achieve remission

The weeks that followed are a blur. Maisie had intensive chemotherapy and steroid treatment for a month to achieve remission.

Luckily treatment was successful and she was started on a plan for the next two years (her MRD results were indeterminate so she was put on Regimen B with two intensive blocks).

Read more: Minimal residue disease (MRD)

Multiple fractures in Maisie’s vertebrae

By December 2010 Maisie was still very unhappy and unsettled. The consultant at GOSH admitted her for investigations.
Maisie Whiting
She had a routine abdominal x-ray which showed multiple fractures in her vertebrae. The leukaemia had infiltrated the spine causing the bones to collapse.

Maisie was referred to the orthopaedic team and started on morphine to manage her pain. A spinal brace was fitted and worn daily to provide support and aid healing.  At last Maisie was settled and her pain was relieved.

About the first year of treatment

The first year of treatment was very difficult.

Maisie had a nasogastric tube for feeds and medicines and she lost her hair three times. Care was given on an outpatient basis but there were several hospital admissions for infections.  Maisie had a nasogastric tube for feeds and medicines and she lost her hair three times. 

She missed nursery and playing with her friends and I took leave from work to care for her. It was a very stressful time.

Friends and family often commented on our bravery and asked “how do you cope?” Our reply was “You just do… you have to.” On reflection we were on automatic pilot.

By September 2011 Maisie had started maintenance and treatment was less intense.  Life slowly began to return to normal. She attended nursery again and I returned to work. Hospital admissions greatly reduced and we felt able to do normal family activities again."

Since completing her treatment

Maisie Whiting"Maisie completed her treatment in January 2013. She still has regular check-ups with the haematology and orthopaedic teams.

She’s been well and happy and she started school in September. Academically she easily equals her peers.

She has very little memory of her illness or treatment. No one would ever know how poorly she was by looking at her.  Physically we can see that she’s less ‘sturdy’ and finds activities like hopping and skipping a challenge but she’s getting there and becoming stronger every day."

(December 2013)

Two years since end of treatment

Maisie at the Tower of London"Nearly two years since finishing treatment and Maisie is doing really well. Her hospital check-ups are going well too, thank goodness.

Maisie is now in Year 1 at school - loves it and has lots of friends. She has very good reports from the teachers and nobody would ever know what she's been through.

She does drama and dance groups after school and has swimming lessons at the weekend.

We're looking forward to Christmas in London and heading to Scotland for New Year."

(November 2014)

Read more: Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia | About childhood cancerTreating childhood cancers

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