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Ivy’s transformation: From cancer patient to Disney princess

Eight-year-old Ivy Hyde has so much more in common with a Disney princess than her auburn locks.

Just like Merida from animated hit film Brave, she’s had to fight a deadly curse — hers was a form of blood cancer that robbed her of her toddler years.

In a world far from make ­believe Ivy learned to walk again after nine months in a hospital bed, was fed through nose and stomach tubes, had debilitating bouts of chemotherapy and countless lumbar punctures — all before she made it to kindergarten.

At her weakest she weighed 10kg, though like a true princess, she was wearing a smile.

“She’s never been sooky or cranky though any of it, she’s ­always stayed smiling,” Ivy’s mum Nicole Jamieson said.

Ivy Hyde was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was three years old.
media_cameraIvy Hyde was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was three years old.
Ivy Hyde with her princess dolls while she fought leukaemia.
media_cameraIvy Hyde with her princess dolls while she fought leukaemia.

Ivy was three when diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. It took doctors seven weeks to work out what was wrong and to eliminate a simple cold, whooping cough or asthma.

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What followed was an epic ­battle with a stint in ICU, learning to walk again, then finally, six months before she was due to start school, she “sort of got to be a kid again. The day before she was due to start kindy she had her last chemo,” her mother said.

Ms Jamieson still has to keep a close eye on her bubbly primary school student, who has been in remission for three years, ­especi­ally during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Central Coast family insists on ­focusing on the positives.

“Not everything is rainbow and sunshine that’s for sure but not everything is gloom and doom ­either,” Ms Jamieson said.

“That’s why photo shoots like this are so beautiful, they bring some light and awareness to what children are going through. Ivy doesn’t just look like Merida but she also has the same mannerisms, the same sassiness, the same wanting to do her own thing, that’s what makes it perfect.”

Ivy was involved in a special photography shoot where she dressed up as Merida from the animated movie Brave. Picture: Shannon Smith
media_cameraIvy was involved in a special photography shoot where she dressed up as Merida from the animated movie Brave. Picture: Shannon Smith

Photographer Shannon Smith agreed. She first shot Ivy as a two-year-old after her mum answered a social media call for redheads.

Little did she know she would follow Ivy’s journey to hell and back and be able to create her dream come true.

“She was on a Shire horse through Morpeth at busy school pick-up time, that’s a big deal for a little girl who doesn’t ride, but they both did amazing and he didn’t put a foot wrong,” she said.

“I always told Ivy to let me know who she wanted to be, I would try to make it happen. She wanted to be Merida. She lost her hair through chemo but it came back even darker and deeper red, it was perfect.”

Ivy once photographed once her hair was long enough after her cancer treatments. Picture: Shannon Smith
media_cameraIvy once photographed once her hair was long enough after her cancer treatments. Picture: Shannon Smith

Smith played down her effort and generosity.

“This poor little girl has been through so much, so at the very least I can give her a photo shoot she dreams of. If you are in a position to give, then you should always give,” she said.

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