• Julia Sidwell

Hattie's Magic Medicine

When single mum Katie rushed her daughter to hospital, she never expected to be told Hattie had leukemia. But it was Hattie’s big brother Dexter who helped her fight her battle and kept her smiling. And we placed her story in Bella magazine, to help raise awareness of the horrible disease. Do you have a similar story you want to share?

Bella magazine

In August 2014, Katie took her daughter’s hand and froze. Hattie, then one, had a nasty-looking rash on her arm that filled Katie with fear.

‘She’s just dehydrated,’ the nurse at A&E said. ‘Here’s some Dioralyte. If she drinks this then you can go home.’

But Katie knew it was something more. And blood tests proved it – Hattie had leukemia.

The devastated single Mum panicked, as her pale, puffy daughter seemed to be fading away before her eyes.

‘My baby’s going to die,’ she cried, urging the medics to get an ambulance to her quicker.

Eventually, she was transferred to GOSH where it was confirmed Hattie had ALL - acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Katie was desperately worried for her daughter, and for her son Dexter, then four. He adored his little sister, how on earth would she break the news?

Days later, four consultants came to see Katie and Hattie’s dad Chris at her bedside. Seeing them all, they knew it would be bad news – and it was. Hattie also had a gene defect, which would make the disease even harder to fight.

That weekend, Dexter went to see his sister.

‘Hattie has naughty cells,’ Katie told him gently. ‘She needs magic medicine to kill them and if her hair falls out, it means it’s working.’

Dexter nodded firmly. And when he discovered the drugs Hattie needed were called dexamethasone, he was even more determined.

‘The drugs have a name like mine,’ Dexter said.

From that moment on, it was Dexter’s mission to get Hattie better.

Katie was constantly torn in two between her children. She was at her daughter’s bedside in hospital, but also wanted to pick up her son up from school and congratulate his latest reading success. Thankfully, the kids’ dad Chris was a huge support.

Soon after starting chemotherapy, Hattie’s golden locks fell out. But when Dexter saw her bald head, he didn’t get upset.

‘Yes! The naughty cells are going,’ he cheered, giving everyone a high five.

Dexter visited Hattie in hospital every weekend. Her friends hardly visited due to risk of infection, so Dexter played with his sister, and sang and did paintings for her. He also, being a typical big brother, stole Hattie’s toys and rubbed her bald head until she shouted at him.

Eventually, after many rounds of chemo and infections, Hattie’s naughty cells were gone.

Now Hattie, three, is undergoing light chemo and having regular check-ups. Dexter, six, distracts his sister by dancing like an octopus when her dressing is being changed and remains her best friend.

Katie says: ‘Of course we all pray the disease won’t return but if it does, Dexter will be tested to see if he is a match so he can be Hattie’s donor for a bone marrow transplant.

‘For now, we’re taking one step at a time. Without Dexter, Hattie wouldn’t be the happy soul she is today. He makes her smile and has given her fighting attitude – and when it comes to fighting cancer, that’s what you need the most.’

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