Hillarys girl inspires with story of Christmas cancer battle in America

Madison Goss overcame an aggressive cancer at age 2. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Madison Goss overcame an aggressive cancer at age 2. Picture: Bruce Hunt

EACH Christmas since 2006 has been a triumph for Madison Goss.

It’s a decade this year since the Hillarys resident (12) was diagnosed, at age two, with a rare liver cancer on Christmas Eve.

Born in the US to a Texan mother and Australian father, Madison’s mum Lara discovered a hard mass in her daughter’s stomach when she was changing her nappy in Atlanta.

MORE: Maddi’s battle in her own words

An ultrasound uncovered a grapefruit-sized tumour known as a hepatoblastoma or as Maddi called it at the time “my bump”.

It is the same cancer that crooner Michael Buble recently announced had afflicted his three-year-old son.

Mrs Goss said just 150 American children a year are diagnosed with the disease.

“The doctors also revealed that this tumour of Maddi’s was likely not going to respond to chemo very well,” she said.

“They wanted us to have Christmas at home and then come back the day after to begin the chemo.”

Madison and mum Lara Goss. Picture: Bruce Hunt

The aggressive blend of three chemotherapy types was debilitating on the 2½-year-old’s body.

The toll intensified when specialists added a fourth chemotherapy dose after they found a nodule in her lung.

The suppression of Maddi’s defences led to her contracting a deadly lung infection known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

It left the fragile patient clinging to life for many days in the ICU at the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.

“Maddi became extremely sick after each inpatient chemo administration since her immune system was wiped out,” Mrs Goss said.

“After four horrendous months, the doctors had to make a huge decision after looking at her latest CT results – this decision really was a life or death one.”

Experts determined the ailing toddler would need a liver transplant after discovering small segments of tumour in other parts of the organ. Critically, the fourth chemotherapy variation had dismantled the growth on her lung.

Had it been unsuccessful, Maddi would not have been a transplant candidate.

Doctors found Mrs Goss to be a living donor match for her daughter, but were reluctant to take that path because of its risks.

With each day crucial, they allowed just one week to find a deceased donor or else the mother-of-four would go under the knife.

Three days later came hope.

“A perfect deceased donor liver was found for Maddi,” Mrs Goss said.

“I remember seeing the organ delivery worker walk past the room.

“In that small container, new life awaited our little girl.

“Mixed with our tremendous joy, there was grief.

“Somewhere, someone’s precious child had passed away.

“Their young loved one’s death brought life to the one we love.

“Those parents’ lives have been completely altered by this loss.

“Our lives are forever changed by this gift.”

Ten years on in her adopted city of Perth, the transplant has an Australian-accented Maddi remaining cancer-free.

Doctors told the family they had never seen such a strong response to chemo-therapy for hepatoblastoma.

The soon-to-be teenager requires daily anti-rejection medication and is immune suppressed.

But as her proud mother said, her new liver “continues to function beautifully” as she approaches her 10th Christmas since the harrowing ordeal.