16 Dec BENJIS STORY
n July 2012, five year old Beni went on holidays to Melbourne from her hometown of Wagga Wagga with her family. She had always been a happy, outgoing child but her parents Shaleen and Nazeem noticed she had a temperature and was becoming lethargic. When the family returned home, they were about to take Beni to her local GP, when she collasped and her eyes started rolling into the back of her head. Her parents rushed her to the local hospital, and she was found to be critically unwell and severely anaemic. She was resuscitated and immediately airlifted to Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, as Shaleen drove through the night to be by her daughter’s bedside. Within a few hours, Beni was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
It came as a big shock to the family as Beni had rarely ever been sick before.
She began her treatment with rounds of chemotherapy to combat the cancer, and for the first two months suffered a range of complications, from severe lung infections to allergic reactions to a commonly used drug.
According to Shaleen, Beni, who was normally on the go all the time, didn’t get out of bed for seven weeks.
“She’s normally up and dancing around everywhere, but she didn’t get out of bed,” she said. “It breaks your heart to see your only daughter like that.”
Beni is still undergoing chemotherapy treatment and flies in with her parents every ten days for four days before flying back home to Wagga Wagga. But now she has got some of her old spark back.
“She’ll be dancing around the ward, getting the nurses and other patients up as well,” Shaleen said. “She loves it, she’s such an inspiration.”
Most importantly, Beni is now in remission and her leukaemia is completely undetectable using even the most sophisticated tests. However, to ensure she is cured Beni needs to continue her treatment, and she will continue with further chemotherapy in the New Year. She will be at home for Christmas with her parents and older brother Zain, but will fly back to the Hospital on Boxing Day for treatment.
“Beni is so used to the travel now, she knows she has to get-up and get on the plane to come to the Hospital, she knows it has to be done,” Shaleen said.