Mum Noelle has spoken about her family’s cancer journey to raise much needed funds for the Queensland Children’s Hospital. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Mum Noelle has spoken about her family’s cancer journey to raise much needed funds for the Queensland Children’s Hospital. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

How a bruise turned into shock cancer diagnosis

IT WAS every parent's worst nightmare.

Gold Coast mum-of-three Noelle Pedersen had been watching her little girl at a gymnastics lesson like any ordinary day when she thought it would be worth mentioning some recent bruising she'd noticed on the 3-year-old to their local GP.

Just hours later, her daughter was in Queensland Children's Hospital undergoing emergency exploratory surgery to determine what kind of cancer she had.

"A lot of the other families say their kids were unwell, but that wasn't the case with us, she was really active … I just kind of thought she might be low iron and a little anaemic," Mrs Pedersen said.

"The doctor came and told me and I was like 'no that has to be a mistake, you have to check it' because it just seemed impossible, she was so healthy.

"They had to do it (surgery) immediately because treatment needs to start like instantly."

Scout Pedersen, 4, with mum Noelle. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Scout Pedersen, 4, with mum Noelle. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Scout Pedersen, now 4, was diagnosed with b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia just weeks before Christmas last year.

"Her hair fell out within 10 days, and you see pictures of kids and they have no hair, but it's just so fast, everything happens so quickly that you cannot get your mind around it," Mrs Pedersen said.

"One minute they are totally fine and you're at gymnastics, you're making school lunches and the next minute you are literally living in hospital and they are really sick.

"You're at emergency and you're like 'when can we go home?' and they're like 'you're not going home'."

For months, the family-of-five lived apart, with Noelle and Scout at the hospital in Brisbane and Scout's two brothers and dad Dan at home on the Gold Coast.

"I left the house completely as it was and I didn't go home for like I think two months of something before I even stepped foot in the house again. I just had the clothes on my back for going to school pick up," she said.

Scout Pedersen. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Scout Pedersen. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Scout is still in the intensive phase of chemotherapy and surgery but her family is hopeful the intensity of her treatment will reduce in time for her to attend kindy in January.

"It's been a really really tough year," Mrs Pedersen said.

"Because she has been immuno-suppressed since this is all happening so she hasn't really been allowed to be around other children or kind of go anywhere or be around people, so things are going to open up a bit for her counts are a big higher.

"She is so excited about it because she was meant to start kindy this year, we'd already done the kindy orientation and she'd actually made friends with some of the other kids.

"She had her backpack and she was all ready, and then this happened and she was pretty devastated that she couldn't go."

At any moment the four-year-old may need to be rushed back to hospital for emergency treatment.


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The activities, staff and facilities at Queensland Children's Hospital have made a world of different to Scout's cancer journey, Mrs Pedersen said.

"I can honestly say without everyone's kindness, our team at the hospital, and the Children's Hospital Foundation community, we would not be surviving this," she said.

"It's so horrible in a hospital, all of the kids that are in there long term they just want to leave, I mean no one wants to be there, everyone wants to be home, but if you have to be there it is amazing psychologically for the facilities that they have to cheer them up."
Children's Hospital Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Rosie Simpson, said money raised through Nine Telethon would fund vital medical research, lifesaving medical equipment, and patient and family-support services.

"Every single donation, no matter the size, helps us work wonders for sick kids just like Scout," Ms Simpson said.

To donate to the Nine Telethon, visit or call 1800 909 900.

Originally published as How bruising turned into shock cancer diagnosis