Bundaberg nine-year-old Maddison has spent more than 700 days in hospital since she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a tumour of muscle, in 2017.
Now cancer-free, Maddison and her family have recognised a healthcare worker who walked alongside them during their marathon hospital journey.
Paediatric surgical registrar Dr Narelle Lintern is the latest winner of the Juiced TV Super Hero Award, supported by QSuper.
Maddison’s mother, Vanessa, told QSuper they first met Dr Lintern during Maddison’s longest admission, which lasted 167 days.
“It was such a scary thing that was happening to her, and Dr Lintern was great at taking the time to explain everything to Maddison to make sure she didn’t feel scared whenever she had a procedure, and to gain her consent,” Vanessa said.
“She treated Maddison as an adult to make sure she understood what was happening to her own body.”
After 12 months of chemotherapy and radiation failed to treat her tumours, Maddison went from an oncology to a surgical patient.
The tumours were removed at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in 2018, but Maddison continued to experience complications from the chemotherapy which required her to have a permanent nasogastric tube.
“As a doctor you have to acknowledge that you’re possibly meeting people on the worst day of their life, giving them confronting information and life-changing news,” Dr Lintern said.
“With kids, people forget that they do know what is going on. It is so important to explain everything to them and to make sure they can understand.
“I can truly say that Maddison and her family have touched my career, and I am so chuffed to share this experience with them.”
QSuper and Juiced TV developed the awards program in partnership to shine a light on medical and support staff – the doctors, nurses, volunteers and others - who selflessly dedicate themselves to the wellbeing of others.
Dr Lintern, the latest recipient of the award, has worked as a surgical registrar for almost a decade, spending five of those years specialising in paediatric care.
“This QSuper initiative empowers sick kids to find a positive influence in their hospital journey and share it proudly. My hope for Maddison’s future is that she has a happy and healthy life that involves her spending not nearly as much time in hospital,” Dr Lintern said.
“Often children come in with a problem, and most of the time we get to solve it and send them home better than they came in. I am honoured knowing that the work we do sets them up for a brighter future.”
Vanessa said what set Dr Lintern apart was she would make the time to talk to Maddison and understand her interests.
“Maddison wants to be a fashion designer when she is older, so when Maddison would point out Dr Lintern’s pink shoes, they would talk at length about them and the next time we would see her she would be wearing pink for Maddison,” Vanessa said.
“I just want to thank Dr Lintern through QSuper’s award for making everything a little bit less scary for Maddison.
“It may not seem like a big deal, but to families in hospital it is the difference between their child being able to go back for treatment, or never wanting to step foot in hospital again.”
Today, Maddison is working toward the goal of attending school full-time.