How a three-year-old’s playdate at the beach ended in a leukemia diagnosis

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A heartbroken mother has opened up about the day she took her ‘active’ three-year-old daughter to the doctor on a whim when she noticed bad bruising all over her body, only to be told hours later that the toddler had cancer.  

As the anniversary of Noelle Pedersen’s daughter Scout’s devastating diagnosis draws near, the mother-of-three told Daily Mail Australia that December 3, 2019, started just like any other day.

The 44-year-old, from Queensland‘s Gold Coast, dropped her sons Ever, 10, and Bay, seven, at school and took her daughter to gymnastics, before the youngster played at the beach with a friend.

While she played in her swimming costume, Mrs Pedersen and the family friend they were with on the sand noticed that Scout – who did not seem sick at all – had unusual bruises all over her body.

Pictured: Scout Pedersen before she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which affects blood and bone marrow

Pictured: Scout with her brother Bay

Pictured: Scout with her brother Bay

Pictured: Scout Pedersen when she was three, before cancer

Pictured: Scout Pedersen when she was three, before cancer

Noelle Pedersen two sons Ever, 10, and Bay, seven, and a daughter Scout who was diagnosed with cancer on December 3, 2019

Noelle Pedersen (pictured with Scout) told Daily Mail Australia that December 3, 2019, started just like any other day

Noelle Pedersen (pictured with Scout) told Daily Mail Australia that December 3, 2019, started just like any other day

Noelle Pedersen (pictured with Scout) told Daily Mail Australia that December 3, 2019, started just like any other day

‘We recently became vegetarian so I thought it was an iron deficiency, and I thought I should take her to the doctor to check it out,’ Mrs Pedersen said.

When the GP saw the toddler’s bruises, he calmly recommended the family go to the hospital emergency ward to get a blood test.

‘When the doctor heard the test results over the phone, she looked stricken,’ the stay-at-home mum explained.

‘They took Scout away and told me “your little girl has cancer”, and the doctor cried and I cried – it was a bombshell. It’s the worst diagnosis you can get.’

Scout, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which affects blood and bone marrow, was rushed into emergency surgery where doctors at Queensland Children’s Hospital discovered a large amount of cancer cells.

Mrs Pedersen noticed bruises all over Scout's body (pictured) and took her to the doctor

Mrs Pedersen noticed bruises all over Scout's body (pictured) and took her to the doctor

Mrs Pedersen noticed bruises all over Scout’s body (pictured) and took her to the doctor

Scout's brothers, Ever (right), 10, and Bay (left), seven, see their little sister whenever they can

Scout's brothers, Ever (right), 10, and Bay (left), seven, see their little sister whenever they can

Scout’s brothers, Ever (right), 10, and Bay (left), seven, see their little sister whenever they can

Pictured: Scout moving with a walking frame

Pictured: Scout moving with a walking frame

Pictured: Scout in a wheelchair

Pictured: Scout in a wheelchair

Her mother said the four-year-old has had moments where she had to get around with a walking frame (left), and is sometimes so ill she needs a wheelchair (right)

‘They said it was surprising she was presenting so well because there was so much cancer in her body,’ Mrs Pedersen said.

Over the following months, Mrs Pedersen was forced to relocate into an apartment an hour away in Brisbane to be near her daughter while her husband Dan worked and looked after their older children, visiting throughout the week and on weekends.

The mother, who had never spent a day away from her sons, said no one in her family had ever gone to hospital before and the whole system was a shock.

In the year that followed, Scout, who is now four, had a cocktail of chemotherapy, blood transfusions and antibiotics to keep her alive. 

The youngster had a lucky near miss earlier this year when her body, unable to fight infection due to the radiation treatments, contracted an antibiotic-resistant infection.

Pictured: Scout with her father Dan Pedersen, who is a suburban building designer on the Gold Coast

Pictured: Scout with her father Dan Pedersen, who is a suburban building designer on the Gold Coast

Pictured: Scout with her father Dan Pedersen, who is a suburban building designer on the Gold Coast

Pictured: Dan Pedersen with his young daughter Scout, who is in hospital fighting cancer

Pictured: Dan Pedersen with his young daughter Scout, who is in hospital fighting cancer

Pictured: Dan Pedersen with his young daughter Scout, who is in hospital fighting cancer

Pictured: Scout with her father Dan

Pictured: Scout with her father Dan

Pictured: Scout Pedersen in hospital

Pictured: Scout Pedersen in hospital

‘As a parent, you want to take the cancer for them so they don’t have to have it, but you can’t and so all you want to do is keep your child in a bubble so they don’t catch anything,’ Mrs Pedersen said

Doctors worked at lightening speed to find a cure for the illness before it killed Scout (pictured)

Doctors worked at lightening speed to find a cure for the illness before it killed Scout (pictured)

Doctors worked at lightening speed to find a cure for the illness before it killed Scout (pictured)

Doctors rushed to find a cure for the illness before it killed the little girl, who was in a coma for a week as her organs started to shut down. 

As her likely survival rate plunged from 75 per cent to below 50 per cent, specialists cured the infection with a drug so rare it wasn’t stocked in the hospital.

Scout survived, but lost all her front teeth.

‘The thing that kills children who are so young with cancer often isn’t the illness, it’s the chemotherapy because their bodies can’t fight infection,’ Mrs Pedersen said.

‘As a parent, you want to take the cancer for them so they don’t have to have it, but you can’t and so all you want to do is keep your child in a bubble so they don’t catch anything.’

As scout's survival rate plunged from 75 per cent to below 50 per cent, specialists cured the infection with a drug so rare it wasn't stocked in the hospital

As scout's survival rate plunged from 75 per cent to below 50 per cent, specialists cured the infection with a drug so rare it wasn't stocked in the hospital

As scout’s survival rate plunged from 75 per cent to below 50 per cent, specialists cured the infection with a drug so rare it wasn’t stocked in the hospital

Despite Scout's fragile state, her big brothers (pictured) visit her when they can and have been 'strong' and 'brave' dealing with their baby sister's life-threatening illness

Despite Scout's fragile state, her big brothers (pictured) visit her when they can and have been 'strong' and 'brave' dealing with their baby sister's life-threatening illness

Despite Scout’s fragile state, her big brothers (pictured) visit her when they can and have been ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ dealing with their baby sister’s life-threatening illness

'My husband and I grieve the childhood she's lost, but she lives in the present and has no idea what she's missed,' her mother said, Pictured: Ever (left), 10, Bay (centre), seven, and Scout (right)

'My husband and I grieve the childhood she's lost, but she lives in the present and has no idea what she's missed,' her mother said, Pictured: Ever (left), 10, Bay (centre), seven, and Scout (right)

‘My husband and I grieve the childhood she’s lost, but she lives in the present and has no idea what she’s missed,’ her mother said, Pictured: Ever (left), 10, Bay (centre), seven, and Scout (right)

Despite Scout’s fragile state, her big brothers visit her when they can and have been ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ dealing with their baby sister’s life-threatening illness.  

‘My husband and I grieve the childhood she’s lost, but she lives in the present and has no idea what she’s missed. Kids are amazing that way – when she has a scary procedure, she doesn’t dwell on it like we do,’ Mrs Pedersen said.

While Scout hates being in hospital and doesn’t like being away from home and her own bed, she plays energetically and shrugs off sickness so convincingly the doctors have to double-check her results to see if she’s as sick as they say.

Her mother said the four-year-old has had moments where she had to get around with a walking frame, and is sometimes so ill she needs a wheelchair.

To help with medical and living costs, family friends set up a Go Fund Me page. pcitured: Scout with her brothers

To help with medical and living costs, family friends set up a Go Fund Me page. pcitured: Scout with her brothers

To help with medical and living costs, family friends set up a Go Fund Me page. pcitured: Scout with her brothers

If Scout remains cancer-free until 2027, at the age of 11, she will be able to have a normal childhood

If Scout remains cancer-free until 2027, at the age of 11, she will be able to have a normal childhood

If Scout remains cancer-free until 2027, at the age of 11, she will be able to have a normal childhood

Mrs Pedersen (pictured with Scout and her husband Dan) said her daughter is only alive because Australians continue to donate blood

Mrs Pedersen (pictured with Scout and her husband Dan) said her daughter is only alive because Australians continue to donate blood

Mrs Pedersen (pictured with Scout and her husband Dan) said her daughter is only alive because Australians continue to donate blood

‘A lot of kids with leukaemia will go into remission within a few months, but that didn’t happen for Scout because she had so much cancer in her body,’ Mrs Pedersen said.

‘It has been a year and we’re still in crisis mode – her treatment is now set to end in April 2022, and that’s when she’ll finally be in remission.’

To help with medical and living costs, family friends have set up a Go Fund Me page. 

Mrs Pedersen said her daughter is only alive because Australians continue to donate blood.

‘It’s a blood cancer and she has needed so many transfusions and we have replied on the Australian community, and if we didn’t have that she wouldn’t have survived,’ she said.

The goal now is to keep Scout cancer-free until 2027, when she will be 11 years old.

This is the age that doctors say the chances of her relapsing are greatly reduced and her chances of enjoying a normal childhood subsequently skyrocket. 

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