MARNIE and Craig Rowden thought their daughter Matilda had the flu.
The family had just moved to Stawell to take on the Brix Hotel – and something wasn’t right.
Within hours of having medical tests, the then four year-old was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
On May 6, 2015, Matilda was diagnosed with a form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Now, after 795 days and 1060 doses of chemotherapy, Matilda had her last dose on Monday.
Her proud parents said it was a surreal moment.
“We had been looking forward to it for so long,” they said.
“But we can’t get too excited because we know she still has a long way to go.
“At hospital we are always meeting parents whose kids have reached the end of treatment – but then their kids have relapsed.
“So it’s always in the back of your mind.”
Mr and Mrs Rowden have tried to make the process as “bearable” as possible for Matilda.
They said her bravery throughout the ordeal had been a shining light.
They said Matilda had continued to smile and had fought hard against the disease for a long time.
“Matilda has taught us a lot of things, but overall she has taught us resilience,” they said.
“She’s the toughest kid we know.
"Through all of this she has kept smiling and kept her positivity.
“She is very courageous and so brave.
“Because of how well she has handled it, we have handled it a lot better.”
Mr and Mrs Rowden said maintaining a positive mindset was crucial in working through the many months of treatment.
“When she was diagnosed we thought, OK, we have a really long journey ahead of us and we have to make this as bearable as possible for her and us,” they said.
“We have seen parents who haven’t coped well and children pick up on that.
“A lot of it is about that positive mindset.”
Matilda’s final dose of chemotherapy this week has given hope to Mr and Mrs Rowden that she can still experience the simple joys of childhood.
“She has lost two-and-a-half years of being a kid,” they said.
“She has been locked up in a sterile environment and kept away from everybody else.
“Just someone sneezing or coughing on her can cost us another six days in the hospital.
“So now we have to keep positive, look towards the future and let Matilda start being a kid again.”