In 2015, two-year-old Devyn Tregurtha was a happy and healthy child so when she had an extremely high temperature for two weeks straight, her mum Bianca stared to worry.
Devyn went in and out of the emergency room and the doctors thought she possibly had a hip infection so she was admitted to hospital for a hip wash and then a bone marrow biopsy.
“The next day we got the results and a haematologist came in to talk to us. He told us Devyn’s hip was fine and she actually had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia”
Bianca works in the medical industry and says that she had heard a few things that made her think Devyn possibly had cancer but she didn’t voice her concerns to anyone.
“I remember the day she was diagnosed so clearly. I felt like I was dreaming,” says Bianca.
From the day of her diagnosis, Devyn spent a month in the hospital receiving treatment with Bianca by her side. Devyn picked up rotavirus when she first was admitted in the emergency room so she had to be isolated to her room the entire month.
Although she was only two at the time, Devyn had already started talking and Bianca says she was worried how Devyn would react to everything in the hospital and her treatments.
“She never complained once. She just went with everything and it really did make it so much easier on the family knowing she was ok with the new situation,” says Bianca.
When Devyn was able to go home after being in isolation she was technically in remission but the family knew she had a long road ahead of her with maintenance chemotherapy for another few years.
Bianca says they were lucky with the amount of overnight hospital stays they had to go through after the month in isolation and being at home with the rest of the family made a big difference.
Devyn’s older sister Luca was only five-years-old when Devyn was diagnosed and the change in family life and her routine was tough at first.
“When Devyn was in hospital for that first month, either my husband Ryan or I were with her which meant Luca never had us all together at home for a long time,” says Bianca.
Devyn’s diagnosis was a lot for Luca to understand and she became anxious that she would also get leukaemia like her sister. Bianca and Ryan did their best to explain to Luca that she couldn’t catch what her sister had and it was ok to be around her.
Bianca heard about Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand’s Kid’s Club for siblings and children of someone diagnosed with a blood cancer and says Luca went to her first group this year.
“Luca came home with an LBC diary to write or draw in. I was really surprised when I saw she had written a lot of questions to take to the group next time and they were things that I knew LBC could answer better than we could like ‘Why did Devyn get leukaemia?”
Both Ryan and Bianca had to take time off work when Devyn was diagnosed and although she tried to work one day a week, Bianca ended up leaving her job in order to be with Devyn daily through treatment.
“Ryan had to keep things rolling for the family as we still needed an income but his work were amazing and even threw fundraisers for us,” says Bianca
Two years later in mid-2017, Devyn has just finished her treatment and Bianca has been able to head back to work full time.
“I went back to work part time at first and at the same time Devyn started attending pre-school which she loves and I love being back at work so it’s been a great transition for us both!” says Bianca.
When she started at pre-school, Tim, the LBC Support Services Coordinator in Auckland, went and visited her class to explain why Devyn sometimes might not be there and what she had been through the past few years. Devyn also got given a ‘Monkey in my Chair’ to sit in her chair when she isn’t there.
Although Bianca says Devyn went through treatment ‘like a champ’, Devyn was very happy to hear she didn’t have to take medication daily anymore.
After an unexpected two years of supporting Devyn through her treatment, Bianca says she and Ryan now worry about normal things like any other young family which is a nice change.
“Now we instead of worrying about horrible things like cancer and treatment we worry about who will do the school pickups!” says Bianca.
“We just took it one day at a time and rolled with whatever came our way.”