Local six-year-old Katelyn Thompson is in the midst of the biggest fight of her life, with her family a uniting force by her side, after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in December.
Katelyn's mother Krystal Jones noticed her daughter was becoming pale and sick at the beginning of December last year.
They visited their local doctor in Kempsey on December 5. On the following day after school, the Kindergarten student was picked up by her step-dad, Barry Jones, for a blood test ordered by her doctor.
A few hours after the test, the family were told Katelyn needed to be taken to hospital immediately.
The family's life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. Katelyn was first rushed to Port Macquarie Hospital before being flown to John Hunter Hospital where she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
"When we found out she had cancer it was a huge shock and we were very emotional, Krystal and I were both crying," Barry said.
Barry flew down with Katelyn while Krystal packed the car and drove down to be by her daughters side with Katelyn's brothers seven-year-old Laikyn and one-year-old Wyatt. Katelyn's older sister Rhianna was sent to stay with her dad.
On December 11, less than a week after her diagnosis, Katelyn started her first round of chemotherapy at John Hunter Hospital.
"The chemo makes her sick, but she has been handling it well. She doesn't like that she can't go outside because of her weak immune system," Barry said.
Our minds are just focused on Katelyn at the moment and staying strong for all of our kids."Barry Jones
Katelyn is kept in an isolated room at John Hunter Hospital and is only able to interact with the doctors, her teacher and her parents and brothers.
"She isn't able to interact with the other kids at the hospital because she has no immune system at the moment."
Katelyn has also undergone a lumber puncture procedure to check the cancer's progress and bone marrow tests.
"For the lumber puncture, they put a needle in her spine and take out the fluid to check if the cancer is in her brain and they have to drill into her hip to test the bone marrow."
The family has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House while Krystal and Barry have been taking turns being by Katelyn's side every day.
"Krystal has been with her 24/7 and I've been looking after the kids and giving her a break when I can," Barry said.
Both Katelyn and Laikyn will be catching up on school at the hospital through teachers at John Hunter and classes from their teachers at Kempsey West Public School.
"It has been difficult for the whole family, but the kids are handling it. Wyatt actually celebrated his first birthday at the Ronald McDonald House."
The last few months have also had a financial impact on the family, with Krystal putting her work on hold to be with her daughter and family in Newcastle.
Katelyn is also being fed through a feeding tube and her food and medicine cost $500 a month.
"All of it does add up and it has been difficult for us over the past month," Barry said.
Katelyn is now halfway through her chemotherapy and doctors are saying at this stage it's looking good for the six-year-old.
"When she's finished this round of chemo she will have more tests and the doctors will see if her neutrophils and platelets build up in her blood. If she gets healthier she will be allowed out and then she will have another round of chemo," Barry said.
"It's looking good now, but we won't really know until she finishes the chemo. She could potentially need to have a bone marrow transplant.
"If we can go home when she's finished her chemo, she will be at risk of the cancer returning for the next three years."
The family are expecting to stay at John Hunter Hospital for eight to 12 months.
"We have family members in Kempsey and neighbours who are keeping an eye on our house. It's all still just a shock, you don't expect it to happen to a six-year-old. Our minds are just focused on Katelyn at the moment and staying strong for all of our kids."
What is Acute Myeloid Leukaemia?
Acute myeloid leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia is characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells, called myeloblasts or leukaemic blasts.
These cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal blood cells. They can also spill out into the bloodstream and circulate around the body.
Due to their immaturity they are unable to function properly to prevent or fight infection. Inadequate numbers of red cells and platelets being made by the marrow can cause anaemia, easy bleeding, and/or bruising.
How you can help
Katelyn's family have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Katelyn's food and medicine.
Katelyn's Battle fundriaser will be held on March 14 at the Gladstone Hotel. There will be live music and entertainment for the kids including jumping castles and face painting. All proceeds will be donated to the GoFundMe page.
Coastline Credit Union in Kempsey and South West Rocks will be holding a fundraising sausage sizzle on Friday, January 24, between 11am and 2pm.
Coastline is also running a 100's club at local branches to raise funds. Tickets are $2 and the five winners of the raffles will win $100 each with the remaining $500 being donated to the Jones family.