'Warrior princess' won't let cancer take away her smile
AT ONLY three-years-old, Erin La Masurier has had to give up a lot in her life.
She lost her long red ringlets to chemotherapy and the hairdresser's razor a month ago.
She'll lose part of her shoulder next month when surgeons cut out the cancer growing in her bone.
She can't go to daycare anymore because of the deadly risk all illnesses have become.
And some days she can't eat because the side-effects of chemotherapy are their own form of sickness.
But Erin refuses to lose the energetic attitude that has her smiling through a fight with the rare cancer Ewing's Sarcoma.
Parents Beck and John La Masurier have dubbed their youngest child the warrior princess in a Facebook page that will share Erin's fight over the next year.
The bubbly toddler is now in the middle of 12 weeks of chemotherapy, where she must stay in hospital for days at a time.
In March, just a few days before she will turn 4, surgeons at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane will cut out her right scapula - her shoulder blade.
They will take healthy bone alongside the cancerous section to stop the spread of the disease and Erin will live her life without her shoulder.
And after surgery, she will still have to sit through another 22 rounds of chemotherapy and the blood transfusions that come with it.
The disease was first detected last December, several months after Erin fell of a swing and complained of a sore arm.
Beck and John believed her shoulder was just sprained, until it started to swell and wouldn't go away.
In the week before Christmas last year, they convinced a specialist to review Erin's x-rays rather than wait two months for an appointment.
An hour later, those same x-rays were being examined by staff at Lady Cilento and young Erin was booked in for a morning MRI the day before Christmas Eve.
"About 1pm in the afternoon, I was sitting in a little ward," Beck said.
"The orthopaedic surgeon came up to me and just sat next to me... put her hand on my leg and said I'm really sorry, but your daughter's got cancer," Beck said.
"Erin was sitting there and she looked at me. I had to try and keep it together."
"That moment was the beginning of their nightmare," John said.
The family have now become very familiar with the cancer ward at Lady Cilento's, spending at least one day there every week and up to six days in other weeks.
John and Beck hope discussing Erin's cancer publicly will help other parents recognise when swelling is not just a sprain.
"She was never unwell. She never had temperatures," Beck said.
Both John and Beck work full-time, and credit Erin's nan Chris Armstrong for helping them juggle hospital trips, work and caring for their seven-year-old son Mika.
It is also Erin herself that is helping the family get through. "There's just so much about her that is so beyond her years," Beck said.
"Cancer is absolutely devastating, and it has devastated our family, there's no doubt about that. But we've been so blessed to have Erin have such a positive attitude.
"I know that's what has gotten John and I and mum through the days that we've been really anxious and stressed."
The family will hold a fundraiser after Erin's surgery later this year.
Her daycare best friend has asked to shave off her own long hair to help her friend through her cancer fight.