Five-year-old in cancer fight
HAYLEY Ponting smiles and giggles when she talks about her "noodles and wigglies".
Her "noodle" is actually a nasal gastric tube and the "wiggly" is a central line used in the delivery of her life-saving stem cell treatments.
For the gorgeous Goodna five-year-old, they're simply part of her new life as she battles a form of childhood cancer of the nervous system, known as neuroblastoma.
It was only one year ago that Hayley was running around at kindy playing with her friends when she began to complain of "pains in her legs and tummy".
After a number of doctor visits and blood tests failed to shed light on the problem, mum Alison decided to take Hayley to a new doctor after noticing how "white" her daughter looked when playing with the other kids.
Without that second opinion, which discovered three cancerous masses in her abdomen, the plucky little girl wouldn't be around today.
"It devastated us when we found out it was cancer," Mrs Ponting said.
"But you have to realise it's not a dream you can wake up from, it's reality, so you have to face the facts.
"You can either let your child go or be with her all the time you can."
Since that diagnosis in November last year, the bubbly five-year-old has spent eight of the past 11½ months in hospital.
Six rounds of chemotherapy, one major surgery, 20 radiation sessions, stem cell harvests and transplants and now a course of antibody treatments to stave off the disease have given Hayley a second chance at life.
Parents Alison and Fred both know how fragile their daughter's hold on life is, and are determined to be there for Hayley whenever she needs them.
"We've been told she can only go into remission so many times before it goes the way we don't want it to," Mrs Ponting said.
Among all the heartache of Hayley's treatment lies the reality of everyday life.
Fred, a truck driver, has spent much of his time in the past year on the road keeping his family's finances in check.
Mrs Ponting said her husband spent every possible spare moment with his daughter, but the financial pressures meant he had to continue working.
"It's been tough on everybody. Bills do get paid, but not always on time," she said.
"Every time he is in town he goes to see Hayley.
"He would just love to stop and be there but life goes on and we have to maintain our life.
"It can be stressful because Hayley sometimes wants her dad and he can't be there."
With Hayley in remission and about to undergo her final antibody treatment, she hopes to attend Goodna State School Prep next year.
Anyone wishing to support the Ponting family can contact the Queensland Times on 3817 1797.