Long journey to health

Last updated 15:15 29/05/2013
Addie Torok
BIG BIRTHDAY: Langerhans cell hystiocytosis sufferer Addie Torok is nearing her second birthday, after 15 months of chemotherapy.

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When Addie Torok turns 2 on Monday it will be her mother who is bald this time around.

The Palmerston North toddler's birthday party comes after 15 months of chemotherapy, much of which was in isolation.

Her mother, Tracy Torok, will shave her own head the day before to raise awareness of their journey.

Addie was born with a rare life-threatening disease - Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) - which acts like a cancer.

Only a handful of cases are reported in New Zealand each year and in Addie's situation five of her organs were affected.

"Everyone has Langerhans cells but hers were multiplying very viciously and attacking her organs," Torok said.

Only after being put on a new type of chemotherapy last year did the "lights come on" and treatment work.

"Every 28 days she did a five-day course of two chemos a day," she said.

"That was for 10 months; before that she had four months on different types of chemo that [she didn't respond to as well]."

Addie has collected more than 1500 "cancer beads" from her nights in hospital, various treatments, family visits and blood transfusions.

On Sunday at 1pm Torok's children and husband will shave her head to raise funds outside Rodney Wayne hairdressers in The Plaza.

Half the proceedings from the shave will be donated to the Child Cancer Foundation while the family will keep the remainder for a holiday at a Ronald McDonald family retreat.

Torok wasn't worried about the shave; she said it was something good "mumocologists" did.

"There are a lot of baldheaded women at Starship because they've shaved for their children," she said.

"It will mean the end of a horrible 18 months; hair isn't important - it will grow back."

A Ronald McDonald family retreat would provide a safe environment for Addie, whose immune system was still weak after chemotherapy.

Torok said it was difficult to know how Addie would fare in the future.

In the meantime, they're planning a special party.

"We are renting the school hall, getting a bouncy castle and she's being presented with her purple heart from the Child Cancer Foundation which represents the end of her treatment," she said.

"We are just going all-out because of last year."

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- Manawatu Standard


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