TWELVE months ago, Alanna Coughlan’s world turned upside down.
The year 12 Loreto College student had been tired and nauseous for a few weeks when a blood test revealed she had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Within 24 hours, she was on an intensive chemotherapy program lasting the next 50 days.
But, thanks to Ballarat oncologist Dr George Kannourakis and the St John of God Hospital oncology team, Alanna was able to stay close to family and friends while undergoing treatment.
In July, the 18-year-old found out she was in remission. She is now back at school for an hour or two a week and is looking toward a future in fashion design after completing the rest of her VCE next year.
“Physically, emotionally and mentally it was very hard,” Alanna said.
“Losing my hair was a big deal. It would grow back and then I’d lose it again.
“I lost all my muscle and my weight. My appearance was a big issue for me.”
Alanna’s mother Leanne and father Gary said being able to stay at home in Smythes Creek with their other three children during the treatment was also much easier for them.
“It was a rollercoaster ride,” Leanne said. “But being treated in Ballarat made a world of difference. The connection with the community made a world of difference.”
Leanne said they turned to Dr Kannourakis after Alanna’s initial diagnosis because he had also treated their other daughter nearly 10 years ago for another bone marrow condition.
“George has saved the day a few times over,” Leanne said.