Indie Rose Taurima arrived into the world on 22nd May 2011 at 12.30pm to proud, first time parents Jen and Jai. She was a beautiful baby with an infectious smile.
At 3 months of age Indie was diagnosed with Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. This was the piece of news that would change their lives forever. Indie and her parents began treatment in Sydney at Westmead Children’s Hospital and this would become their home for the next eight months. The treatment included Indie receiving toxic chemotherapy and steroids which brought on extreme cases of ‘Roid rage’. Jen and Jai soon had on their hands one cranky baby, Indie was ready to go 10 rounds with Mike Tyson if she didn’t get her bottle on time. The bottle needed to be ready to go every 2 hours and at the exact temperature that Indie liked. This was a change from the newborn who didn’t want to feed.
The days and weeks passed by and Indie responded well to treatment. Indie entered remission mid-way through 2012. This meant she was able to return home to Canberra with Jen and Jai and she didn’t waste any time in reaching her life milestones.
Able to pull herself up and get around the house Indie began her obsession with the DVD collection, quickly selecting a favourite, Thelma and Louise. There would be a pile of DVD’S pulled out of the cupboard, stacked knee high around Indie and right there on the top would always be Thelma and Louise. Turns out Indie had a thing for Brad Pitt just like her mummy.
In less than a month of being home in Canberra Indie took her first steps, once this occurred Indie was off to explore. A lover of the great outdoors, they would forever be finding Indie out in the garden covered in dirt and muck, not an ideal situation for a child who was supposed to be kept in isolation and germ free. On her outdoor adventures Indie loved to play in water and make mud pies. She loved to dirty things that had been freshly cleaned. Indie would patiently wait for her Mummy to hose off the patio and just at the right time would begin to dirty it all over again. She didn’t play favourites with her mum and dad either. On one particular day her daddy had given the trampoline a thorough clean, but less than a minute later the trampoline had been given what’s known as theIndie treatment - a few handfuls of dirt rubbed into it.
Also during Indie’s time at home, the trait of collecting handfuls of “stuff” was first noticed. It all began with Leaves and sticks. She would collect them until she couldn’t possibly hold any more in her tiny little hands. This obsession progressed through Indie’s life to include handfuls of rocks, noodles, ear buds, stickers, lollies and everything else that she could get her hands on.
Unfortunately Indie’s remission was not a long one and after spiking a fever in February 2013 it was discovered that her leukaemia was back and they had to return to Sydney for further treatment. After another 4 months of gruelling chemotherapy she achieved remission, meaning that Indie could now undergo a bone marrow transplant. This transplant was only made possible after the generosity of a complete stranger. This man supplied Indie with what normally would have been lifesaving bone marrow after he was discovered to be her perfect match.
Whilst in Westmead Children’s Hospital, Indie’s personality continued to develop. She went through her different stages of obsessions. There were the TV show obsession, The Wiggles, Dora, Mickey Mouse, Mister Maker and In the Night Garden, all shows that the parents out there will know well.
Then there were foods - Weetbix, frankfurts, two-minute noodles, pink cupcake icing, McDonalds fries, kit-kats and bread and butter. Her PB stands at 11 pieces of bread and butter in just one day. Most kids love toys - Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine, cars and trucks - but not Indie, she had medical equipment as her toys. Stethoscopes, tongue depressors, the pump, feed bag connectors and lumens. These were her toys and she loved them.
Music was another great love of Indie’s. She loved listening to everything from the Coles jingle on the TV to the Wiggles and Katy Perry. She loved to make her own music. Everything was an instrument, from Tupperware containers to guitars, the glockenspiel and drums.
During Indie’s transplant she started sleeping under her pillows. People would walk into her room and not know where she was. If it wasn’t for her smelly pink crocs hanging out from underneath the pillows it would have been a challenging game of Where’s Indie.
Time in hospital was made easier by Jen and Jai maintaining a positive atmosphere and attitude. There were many days where they could have been swallowed by the gravity of their situation and gone to a dark place; instead they chose to find the silver lining in every day. With the help of the special medical staff on Camperdown Ward, Indie’s days were filled with happiness, positivity and laughter.
After the bone marrow transplant and the required isolation period Indie began her gate passes from her room. This meant trips to Parramatta Park. Indie loved to play in the park and on an almost daily occurrence she would head off with her mummy and daddy on an expedition. She would start at the walk bridge, affectionately known as ‘Indie Bridge’. From there she would gather up little rocks till both her hands were full, run to the middle of the bridge and throw the rocks off into the water, occasionally aiming at some ducks. Maybe she thought that they were related to the swan in Canberra???? From the bridge she would walk around the cricket oval then run along the white chalk lines of the warm up field for the Parramatta Eels. This journey, when calculated, totalled 1.5km every day. The park was a place that Indie continually loved to visit; eventually Indie lost the strength in her legs to be able to walk her track so she would sit back in her pram and hoon around it like Mark Webber at Albert Park.
Each walk in the park was bittersweet for Jen and Jai as they would wonder if it would be the last time they would walk over Indie Bridge, around the cricket oval and along the white chalk lines of the warm up field. The last visit to the park came just a day before Indie got her angel wings. Indie achieved many things in her short time on this Earth.
She inspired the iNDIEstructables, a group of people who came together in her name to make life easier for her family, a gesture that will never be forgotten. She inspired strangers to make offers to have their bone marrow tested just in case they were a match for her transplant. She inspired women and men to shave their heads and their moustaches. She inspired people to cycle thousands of kilometres. She inspired people, young and old, to push a wheelbarrow 140kms. She inspired people to give compassionately to others even if they are strangers. She showed us that you can still laugh and play on your darkest days. She even inspired the nursing staff to make a music DVD, wear crazy hats and to shimmy. She inspired a community, a state, a nation. She inspired US ALL.
If the value of life is measured in smiles then Indie was the richest little lady on this planet, she had smiles and giggles for every day.
Some special words from Indie’s mummy and daddy….
To our beautiful daughter, we are so proud that you chose us to be your mummy and daddy. We will always remember your funny character, your musical talent and your fighting spirit. You will forever have your favourite things with you, your pink hat, your backpack, your drink bottle, your blankie and your 2 pairs of pink crocs. We love you and miss you little chicken.
Indie, as you look down on us all wearing pink, it’s time we let everyone in on your little secret. That your favourite colour is actually yellow.