The Daily Examiner

Maree's fight to beat leukaemia

IT is now two years since Maree Hanson woke with flu-like symptoms that, without immediate medical treatment, could have claimed her life in two days.

The Grafton hairdresser and mother of five had felt lethargic for a few days, but managed to work at her hairdressing salon on Saturday, March 17, 2007. But on Sunday she woke in so much pain she was not able to get out of bed.

She had pain in her legs and back and had bruising, 'like pin pricks' all over her body.

She went immediately to her doctor who took blood tests.

At 3.30pm that day she got the news there were leukocytes in her blood.

She had leukaemia.

Her husband Barry drove her straight to the Lismore Base Hospital where she was admitted into the intensive care unit.

She was treated all night and stabilised before being taken by ambulance to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

It was there that she was told by a specialist that if she had not received immediate treatment she would have died within two days.

“I had no platelets,” she said.

“It was all pretty scary ... very scary actually.”

Mrs Hanson was diagnosed with two types of leukaemia - acute myeloid leukaemia and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and received A + B cycle chemotherapy as treatment for both diseases.

Her first lot of treatment lasted 16 weeks, then she started receiving stem cells from her brother, John Ensbey, to boost her platelets.

She left the Princess Alexandra Hospital on August 7, 2007 and was transferred to the Royal Brisbane Hospital and then to the Mater Hospital, where she contracted pneumonia five times.

She was later transferred to a 'leukaemia village'. When she arrived there were 46 leukaemia patients.

Of those only 20 survived.

Mrs Hanson is now back home and returns to Brisbane once a month for treatment to boost her immune system.

But otherwise she feels 'fantastic' and believes her recovery was miraculous.

She has returned to work three days a week.

During her illness her family went from two incomes to none. She had to sell her hairdressing business and her husband had to leave work to provide care.

Mrs Hanson has now turned her attention to helping others.

“I am passionate about it,” she said.

“I just want people to give blood and to be donors because without that leukaemia patients wouldn't be able to survive.”

And to back up her enthusiasm she has promised to have her head shaved if she can get donations totalling $1000 by April 12.

For a hairdresser who would have to attend the engagement party of her son Matthew in Port Macquarie it is a big call.

Her sons Matthew, Luke, Damien, Jay and Sam have all now put their names down as organ donors.

“The support of my family, friends, colleagues and customers has been fabulous,” she said.

Anyone wanting to donate can go to Cutting Edge hair salon (near Hank's) in Prince Street, Grafton.

The Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave is on March 12.

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