Three years ago, 11-year-old Chantal Stallard received a life-changing leukaemia diagnosis that affected her entire family. When her mother Virginia contacted HELL, Satan’s Little Helper got straight on the case and treated the Stallard ladies (Chantal, Virginia and younger sister Dominique) to a luxurious day of pampering at Waiwera Thermal Spa Resort. Chantal’s parents, Virginia and Tony, say the day they received the diagnosis was “the worst day of our lives”. What followed was a two-and-a-half-year treatment regime that included blood tests, injections, infusions, transfusions, bone marrow tests, lumbar punctures, lengthy hospital stays, daily tablet taking and many days at home too sick to go anywhere.
In that time, Chantal has accumulated nearly 1,100 ‘beads of courage’; issued by the Child Cancer Foundation, each bead represents a different stage of treatment. Despite facing numerous challenges, Chantal maintained a brave face, attending school when possible and even appearing in her ballet school’s annual show. “She was determined not to miss any ballet or dance lessons if she could manage it,” says Virginia. “She did her best and we’re so proud of her for keeping it up.” Chantal’s Port-a-Catheter* was removed last February and marked six months since her last chemotherapy session. With a long road to recovery ahead of her daughter, Virginia thought her brave angel deserved to be treated to a day out at the Waiwera Thermal Spa Resort. Satan’s Little Helper arranged a Manuka Body Wrap and spa treatment for the three ladies of the family. It was also a chance for Chantal’s principal caretaker, stay at home dad Tony to grab some well-deserved time out. He went and relaxed at the Gulf Harbour Marina, before joining his girls for a soak in the hot pools. Virginia says it was a great day out. “I think a day of love and pampering was just what the doctor ordered!” she says. “Thanks so much to everyone at HELL for giving us such a fabulous day, we appreciated it so much.” While Chantal’s life is starting to return to normal, Virginia says there is a long way to go before they can be 100% confident she’s in the clear. “The oncologists no longer need to see us at Starship Hospital, which represents a new marker in Chantal’s recovery,” she says. “Now we’re going to the outpatient clinic in Greenlane every two months for monitoring. So far, all the signs are positive; we just hope and pray it stays that way. “All going well, these will extend to three, four and six monthly visits; then hopefully we get to hear ‘see you in a year’s time’. After that, a 20-year-long monitoring process begins and only after that can the doctors say she is 100% cured. “She’s a brave and strong soul, and is now a normal teenager – we’ve gone from chemo-induced moods to hormone-induced ones, but at least we can explain them!” *Used by doctors to administer chemotherapy directly into the bloodstream, a Port-a-Catheter sits under the patient’s skin. The area is numbed and needle is inserted, it’s necessary because the body’s veins can’t handle repeated injections. Image: Chantal at Starship during after receiving her diagnosis, but prior to starting chemotherapy.