On 17 June 2021, life for the Blakey family was turned upside down, when their 13-year-old daughter, Khiana, was diagnosed with a childhood cancer called synovial sarcoma.
Synovial sarcoma is a cancer that can be found in different types of soft tissue, such as muscles or ligaments. Khiana’s cancer was in her abdomen, and she was referred to specialists at Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane for immediate treatment.
“When we first arrived at hospital, I felt so incredibly devastated and scared… and being so far away from home was lonely,” her mum, Allison, said.
Khiana has undergone seven rounds of chemotherapy, 25 sessions of radiation and major abdominal surgery to treat her cancer. During her treatment, she got very sick with nausea and vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite and lost all her hair.
It has been a long and difficult journey for Khiana, however, 2022 has seen some exciting milestone moments.
It was a huge day for Khiana and her family when her central line was removed in mid-February, which allowed her to finally go swimming again and have a decent shower – something so many take for granted.
“We also got to see Khiana ring the bell at Queensland Children’s Hospital to signify the end of her treatment, which was an emotional occasion for us as a family, given all she had endured over the past six months. She is such an amazing, strong, resilient and inspirational young lady.
“It was incredibly difficult being away from our home, family and friends for such an extended period of time, especially as Khiana’s younger sister, Cassidy, had to spend so much time back at home with her Nonna.
“Throughout it all, Children’s Hospital Foundation were there to support us with their wonderful services, especially being able to borrow devices to keep the girls busy during the long, slow days as well as the friendly staff who would come and visit to brighten our day.”
Thankfully, Khiana’s end-of-treatment scans in January were all clear, with no evidence of disease. Khiana is now enjoying being back at school and continuing her favourite things to do like playing netball, shopping and spending time with her friends.
Since 2008, the Children’s Hospital Foundation has funded the Queensland Children’s Tumour Bank – an openly accessible paediatric tumour tissue bank. Samples collected by Queensland Children’s Tumour Bank are disseminated to researchers in Australia and throughout the world for use in research projects that ultimately aim to improve health outcomes for children like Khiana, with cancer.
Queensland Children’s Tumour Bank samples have contributed to the identification of new therapies for childhood cancers with poor prognoses, uncovered critical new insights into childhood cancer biology, and informed new clinical trials and patient management.