‘Just horrible’: Little Neveah's brave battle to survive
NO PARENT wants to imagine a world without their young child in it.
But for Bree and Josh Nott, it became a reality they were forced to face.
The Glenview couple, along with six-year-old daughter Nevaeh, were just like any other family on the Sunshine Coast.
That was until little Nevaeh innocently complained of a tooth ache and sore knees.
"We took her to the dentist and got that cleared up, but she kept having high temperatures so we took her back to the doctor," Mrs Nott said.
"I just had a gut feeling that something was not right.
"I told them that I wanted a blood test, and they were saying that it might not be necessary, but my husband and I were both adamant."
Mrs Nott's gut feeling soon turned into a full stomach lurch.
"We were having an early dinner, and the doctor rang me and said … 'take her to the nearest hospital'.
"It was about an hour after we got there we found out."
It was then Nevaeh became one of the 50 Australian children diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia each year.
Mrs Nott never expected to hear the word all parents fear most: cancer.
"You don't think a six-year-old is going to get cancer, so it wasn't in the forefront of our minds," she said.
"I don't think Josh or I could say the word leukaemia for a week.
"If we said it out loud, it was like it was happening."
Soon after learning of Nevaeh's diagnosis, the Nott family dropped everything and travelled to Brisbane for treatment.
The months to follow were some of the worst the couple had experienced in their lives.
Nevaeh's little body endured three full rounds of chemotherapy, suffering sepsis multiple times.
"During the second round we also found out she had the mixed lineage leukaemia cell mutation, which put her into the highest category risk of the worst case scenario," Mrs Nott said.
"She had the worst chemo drugs you can have, and she had them all at once. It was just horrible."
Despite the aggressive treatment, Nevaeh was still required to undergo a bone-marrow transplant.
After finding a perfect match from Germany, she began one of the toughest battles of her young life.
"One of the biggest fears they have with transplant is three main viruses," Mrs Nott said.
"She, very early in the transplant phase where they don't even have the immune system of a foetus, tested positive to all three.
"That was probably the worst week of our lives."
Yet if one thing remained true through Nevaeh's battle with cancer, it's that she was one little fighter.
"She definitely got through it," Mrs Nott said.
"My husband and I were just in awe.
"We couldn't have done it."
The rollercoaster of Nevaeh's journey continued through all the highs and lows that those with cancer know all too well: the inevitable hair shave, the staggering weight loss, the unimaginable chance of relapse.
Yet despite all the horror, Mrs Nott said their family found the strength to never stop fighting.
"Everyone always says to us 'I don't know how you did it' but trust me, if it was your child, you just do it," she said.
Although Nevaeh has now reached the crucial 100 days post-transplant mark, Mrs Nott said her daughter's future journey with cancer was unclear.
"Most of the medications that they use to treat the leukaemia will give her a very high chance of other cancers later," she said.
"Melanoma is a huge one, and it's something like 80 per cent of AML children that have had her dosage get it.
"If I had to do it all again, I would. And we have a high chance of that happening, so we don't discount the fact that this might not be over for us."
Yet despite the uncertainty, Mrs Nott knew the Leukaemia Foundation would always be there for her family.
"Josh and I said so many times that we wouldn't have known that to do without the Foundation," she said.
"They're just incredible."
The Leukaemia Foundation is today launching its World's Greatest Shave campaign in partnership with News Corp titles across Australia.
Mrs Nott said she hoped all dug deep and donated.
"I just want people to know that you have to look past that sentiment of 'I can't imagine if that was my child' and actually think about what they do for people," she said.
"I really hope that people support them, because they are fundamental to getting through this."
While the key campaign time is mid-March, all are encouraged to get involved and shave all year round.
To sign up for World's Greatest Shave, head to the website.