Editorial: ‘If they can keep smiling, so can all of us’

FIGHTER: Matilda Rowden had her last dose of chemotherapy on Monday.

FIGHTER: Matilda Rowden had her last dose of chemotherapy on Monday.

There will come a time in all of our lives when we are faced with an uphill battle. 

But for Stawell youngsters Matilda Rowden and Rylan Smith, that time has come so early in their lives.

At just 4-years-old Matilda was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, while Rylan was diagnosed with T-cell acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at age 9. 

Without any say in the matter, they went from their bedrooms crammed with toys, pictures hanging on walls and full of all those colourful childhood things to a hospital ward. 

Their young lives changed drastically, but they remained the same- smiling, happy and positive. 

Matilda and Rylan are impressing their families and friends, medical staff and the Stawell community with their show of bravery beyond their years.

Matilda’s parents Marnie and Craig Rowden said the courage Matilda has shown during the whole ordeal has helped them cope with it themselves.

Despite many setbacks for Rylan, his parents Narelle and Matt Smith said he just keeps on staying positive and is determined as ever to fight. 

Cancer causes a deep fear to be felt by everybody affected, but these displays of courage and persistence and these traits of strength and resilience are shining lights amid a lonely darkness.

Matilda turned a corner on Monday when she had her final dose of chemotherapy after 795 days and 1060 doses.

While she has not been cured, the emotional victory is a remarkable feat for a 6-year-old. 

After almost a year of medical treatment Rylan Smith will have one more week of it this month as part of the maintenance phase, before he can return home.

Resilience is very difficult to teach, especially at such a young age.

But to see how these two young fighters have persisted is incredible. 

Their families also deserve credit for the role they have played in supporting them.

All of those sleepless nights, the constant struggle to fight back tears and all that time spent travelling to and from hospital- Stawell’s young duo are in very safe and nurturing hands.  

While it is sad to see Matilda and Rylan battling such vicious infections, if they can keep smiling, so can we. 

This story ‘If they can keep smiling, so can all of us’ first appeared on The Stawell Times-News.