Hailey grins and bears it

Story by Alanah Frost, Herald Sun
Images by Alex Coppel, Herald Sun

Hailey Wright has five different headbands but, if you ask her, she could do with a few more. And maybe a bandana, to match her nurse bear.

The bright-eyed six-year-old has been at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) for more than three months, battling a rare type of leukaemia caused by a condition known as myelodysplastic syndrome.

Hailey’s condition means she has a build-up of defective or “rubbish” cells, which fill her bone marrow and cause cancer.

Hailey’s parents, Leah Wright and Steve Dobe, were nursing a five-week-old baby at the time they got the diagnosis on New Year’s Eve.

“We were told she had probably about nine to 12 months here (in hospital), and that depended on how her treatment went,” Ms Wright said.

The young family had to move 300km from Wodonga to Melbourne, while Hailey’s twin brother, Will, has moved in with family near Bendigo.

“She’ll wake up from her general anaesthetic and she’ll be like, ‘Where’s Will?’” Ms Wright said.

Hailey will now spend weeks in a special isolation unit to prepare her for a bone marrow transplant. Doctors said that, without the transplant, her condition would be “incurable”.

“We just tell her it’s the next stop in getting better,” Ms Wright said.

“She’s very tough. She’s been a fighter since she was born.”

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Hailey with her parents Steve and Leah at The Royal Children Hospital. Picture: Alex Coppel