Our battler

CHEMOTHERAPY, blood transfusions, nasal gastric tubes, IV lines - it is all a normal everyday existance for Terranora's Mackensie Pollecutt.

The tiny three-year-old has spent most of her life battling a malignant eye tumour that could kill her.

She has become so used to hospitals that her nurses have nicknamed her Dr Macca and have her help when they take her blood for various tests.

Her mum Tracey said her little patient is so used to being ill that she doesn't know any different and just smiles through it.

"It is a part of life. She is the most important thing so we try to keep her life as normal as possible," she said.

Last week Mackensie's "normal" was a difficult recovery from chemotherapy, a blood and platelet transfusion and a stay of several days in the children's ward. But still, when the Daily News went to visit her, she squirted water syringes and giggled like any other three-year-old - out to make mischief. Even with her nasal gastric tube, she loves to run, jump, boss and climb when she is at home. She loves handbags and wearing frilly dresses with joggers.

But Mackensie's courageous story of survival could be cut short in May when she undergoes a major operation to have the deadly tumour, along with her right eye and part of her face, removed.

The drastic surgery is her best chance of survival, after seven months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation failed.

There was a four-month break, during which time her family and doctors hoped she would enter remission. But it was not to be. "We thought it was scar tissue but it grew back more aggressive than ever and we were told there was no cure.

"After I heard that, I would stay up all night on the inter- net. I didn't want to give up," Tracey said.

Her dedication paid off and Mackensie became one of the few Australians to trial a new UK drug that has shrunk her tumour a little.

Still in danger of losing her battle though, Mackensie is ex- pected to undergo surgery to remove the tumour in May.

Tracey said Mackensie's illness had hit the family hard, forcing them to sell their boat and business.

"When she relapsed it was a big shock, huge shock. We were all looking forward to her going off to pre-school," she said. "Before it happened there had been light at the end of the tunnel. Now we just wait and see what each day brings.

"I look at it that I have still got her with me while we continue the treatment and that is good."

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