8 October 1998 - 23 September 2002
Lowri was born on the morning of 8th October 1998, at North shore Hospital, Auckland. She came into the world quietly and calmly, the third child of Tim and Harri, younger sister to Roosje and Liam. She fitted right into our family the way that she did everything, with little fuss or drama. She slept well, ate well, and quietly watched what was going on around her when she was awake. We even became concerned about her because we realized that we didn’t know what she would sound like if she cried, which seemed very unusual for a baby.
Lowri soon got into the routine of having to fit her life around school drop off and pick up times. She grew into a happy, mostly compliant little toddler. She had views and opinions, but if she was told we were doing something else, she didn’t really fight or sulk about it, she just found a way to have fun doing what we had chosen to do. She played well with Roosje and Liam and their friends – although there were plenty of times when they or their friends didn’t want a little sister around, and she was always sad when they wouldn’t let her play. She was a happy, robustly healthy child. She had a bout of Rotovirus when she was 2 ½, but other than that was never sick. She celebrated her 3rd birthday in October 2001, a bouncy, intelligent, loving little girl, who was looking forward to starting kindy after Christmas.
On December 28th 2001, while staying with relatives in Whakatane, she complained about a sore tummy, when Tim felt her abdomen he found a solid lump on the left hand side. Harri took her to a doctor and she was sent for an ultrasound and blood tests. The ultrasound showed a “massive tumour” on her left kidney. We were advised to take her straight back to Auckland and to Starship Hospital. The doctor told us he thought it was probably Wilms’ Tumour which has a 95% cure rate when caught early.
Lowri checked in to Starship Hospital on December 31st 2001, where further testing revealed spots on her other kidney and some shadows on her lungs. She underwent an operation on January 3rd 2002 where a cut was made from one side of her abdomen across to the other side to allow access to both kidneys. A sample of her right kidney was sent off for frozen section biopsy whilst she was on the operating table. That sample was not found to contain tumour cells, so the surgeon went ahead and removed her entire left kidney, which was mostly tumour. She also had a port-a-cath put into her chest for the chemotherapy which would follow.
The tumour removed from her left kidney was 145 X 100 X 115 mm and weighed 1Kg – Lowri weighed 17Kg. The tumour was found to contain some deformed cells called anaplastic cells, but these were in focal clusters and not thought to be a bad prognostic indicator. We were told that the spots on her lungs should “melt away” with the chemotherapy. Lowri had a Stage 2 tumour but because of the less favourable histology (focal anaplasia) followed the stage three treatment regime. She had six daily treatments of radiotherapy to her abdomen, and on January 8th started a six month protocol of weekly chemotherapy using Vincristine, Actinomycin D and Doxorubicin.
Because her white blood count went too low to fight off infections she could not go to kindy or play with her friends very often, but we held on to the fact that it would only be for 6 months and then back to a normal life. Her Godmother came around and did “home kindy” for her , and a friend from Glenfield Baptist Church continued her “mainly Music” at home for Lowri. Lowri loved these sessions and rarely complained about any of her treatments – except for removing band-aids, which she screamed the house down for.
After 12 weeks she had a routine scanning and on 15th March we were told that the tumours in her lungs had grown during the period of treatment. Lowri had a second operation to remove three tumours from her left lung, whilst another tumour in her right lung was left in place. She then started a more aggressive chemotherapy consisting of 5 days of treatment per 21 days, using Carboplatin, Etoposide, and Cyclophosphamide, and also had eight daily treatments of radiation to her lungs.
This chemotherapy took a much bigger toll on Lowri’s body, with her spending most of the 21 days with blood counts too low to ever go out in public. She lost the last few wisps of hair, and tired very quickly. Throughout all of her treatment she remained the same “happy” child that she ever was, skipping or riding her trike everywhere she could and laughing at most of what life threw at her.
During her next scans a tumour was found in her liver, which had grown despite the continuous onslaught of the chemotherapy. Lowri was scheduled for a liver resection on July 10th 2002. On the morning of the operation an ultrasound scan revealed a second tumour in her liver and a CT scan showed that a tumour was growing in her right lung. The operation was cancelled and no further curative treatment was offered to Lowri.
Tim and Harri lead a worldwide search for suitable treatments for Lowri, but no treatment was found which could offer any hope of a cure.
Lowri left the hospital in July a normal looking and acting three year old, but the tumours just kept on growing. She fought bravely on trying to be a normal active child for a month, but then the pain began to get too much. Despite everyone’s best efforts she spent most of her last month in pain, gradually losing her ability to do the things she loved to do, finally ending up bed-ridden and unable to eat.
Lowri died quietly at home on September 23rd 2002, 15 days before her 4th Birthday. She was a brave and beautiful soul, who didn’t want to die. She didn’t deserve any of the horrible things she went through in her far-too-short life. We miss her more than words could ever tell and will continue to do so until we join her in Heaven.
Lowri we love you right up to the moon and back………….infinite times XXXXXXXX
**Lowri now has a little brother, Owen,
born 13th June 2004.**
You can read more about Lowri and her family on her journal website http://lowri.kiwiangels.org
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