Real Life

Real life: Gal Gadot’s message to 5-year-old cancer sufferer will melt your heart

“I don't know how long she had left so i'm making every moment magical”
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Lizzie Christiansen Young, 48, shares her true life story:

My youngest daughter Freyja, five, ripped open the Christmas paper and squealed.

“Horseriding clothes!” she exclaimed, running into her bedroom to try them on.

She emerged minutes later, parading around in her bright pink riding helmet.

My other daughters, Brynn, nine, and Inge, seven, giggled.

They’d all been up since 6am, sifting through Santa stockings and gorging on chocolate cake.

As a single mum, I always tried to make Christmas as magical as possible but this year, I’d put in extra effort.

Because the devastating reality was, I didn’t know how many more Christmas mornings Freyja would get to enjoy.

Two weeks earlier, she’d developed a lump on the side of her neck.

Doctors thought it was inflamed glands but deep down I suspected something was horribly wrong.

She was booked in for a fine needle aspiration just after Boxing Day, so they could test what it was.

That Christmas, along with her new clothes, Santa brought Freyja a doll of her favourite superhero, Wonder Woman.

Two days later, she clutched it tightly as doctors inserted a large needle into her neck.

“Good girl,” I said, holding her hand.

A few hours after we left, the hospital rang urging us to come straight back.

My heart hammered in my chest and the grave look on the doctor’s face confirmed my fears.

“Freyja has cancer,” she said.

She didn’t know what type yet but it didn’t matter.

Those words were enough to plunge us into a living nightmare.

After further blood and urine tests, we were allowed home and I sat Freyja down in her bedroom.

“You have something called cancer,” I explained gently.

“There are lumps in your body that can make you sick and we need to fix them.”

She stared at me blankly, too young to understand how serious it was.

When I told her sisters, they burst into tears. “We’ll look after her,” Brynn said.

My little girl is a superhero.

Almost a month later we received the results from the biopsy.

The cancer was so rare that worldwide experts had been called to work out what it was.

“Freyja has stage four clear-cell sarcoma,” our doctor said, explaining it’s a soft tissue melanoma. “She’s one

of 40 kids in the world with it.”

I thought of the 40 other mothers out there who’d asked the same question…Why my kid?

But then, why any kid? It was so unfair.

Because the tumour was so close to vital nerves and veins that connected to Freyja’s brain, it was inoperable.

“Most children only live for seven months after a diagnosis like this,” he said gently.

My legs buckled.

Freyja’s tumour was discovered two months earlier.

Did I only have five months left with her?

I managed to hold it together on the way home but that night, in the shower, I broke down.

Afterwards, I forced a brave face for my girls.

Chemo would have no effect on Freyja’s cancer so she had to start six months of intense immunotherapy to hopefully shrink the tumour.

We weren’t even sure she’d live that long but we had to try.

The girls and I moved to Ronald McDonald House in Sydney and for three hours every three weeks Freyja

lay still in bed while drugs flooded her body.

“It’s ouchy,” she cried, dreading the nausea and pain.

I tried to keep her distracted by playing games and when the new Wonder Woman movie came out, I let her watch it as a treat.

Her mouth dropped open as the actress Gal Gadot reeled her lasso of truth and busted through walls.

Freyja watching Wonder Woman.

“She’s strong, just like you,” I told her.

One day my friend, Tammy, told us she had something special for Freyja.

She unlocked her iPhone and played a video.

My eyes widened as Gal Gadot herself appeared on the screen and delivered a personalised message to Freyja.

“I’ve heard wonderful things about you,” she said. “I want to wish you health, luck, love and may you always be happy.”

Freyja’s mouth dropped open.

“Wonder Woman has time to talk to me?” she asked, stunned.

Somehow, through friends, Tammy had contacted the star and told her about her biggest fan in Australia.

It was just the boost Freyja needed.

In August, for her upcoming birthday, I wanted to plan something extra special so I asked her what she wanted.

“I’d love it to snow!” she grinned.

I was originally from the UK and snow always made me think of the white Christmases I’d enjoyed as a kid.

It dawned on me that Freyja might not even make it to December.

Could I bring one last magical Christmas to her?

With only a few days to spare, I told my friend, Kylie, my idea.

“Please let me do this for you,” she begged.

A message from the real Wonder Woman!

Two days later, my three girls dressed in colourful superhero capes and I led them downstairs, where I’d told them we were having a simple morning tea.

They gasped when they walked into the foyer at Ronald McDonald house.

Fake snow was draped over Christmas trees and reindeer statues, while dozens of brightly-wrapped presents sat under a tree.

Kylie’s partner, Steve, was dressed as Santa Claus and their daughter, Anastacia, was Wonder Woman.

Freyja just stood there, taking every detail in with eyes as wide as saucers.

“It’s snowing!” she screamed.

Her first gift was a new Wonder Woman costume, which she quickly put on before running around the room with her sisters, dancing in the snow.

A lump caught in my throat as I watched her play and giggle, without a care in the world.

The moment was so precious.

All the other adults were crying, too.

“Look Mummy, Santa left his reindeer here,” she exclaimed, grabbing my hand.

It was the most magical Christmas we’d ever had!

Now, after months of treatment, Freyja’s tumour has shrunk slightly.

I’m hoping it’s bought us more time.

We can’t be sure yet, but it looks like Freyja will make it to Christmas this year.

We still have a long way to go but my daughters believe in Christmas miracles and so do I.

To help Freyja get lifesaving treatment, donate to

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