Fireman's family conquers double trouble

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It’s been a hard two years for the family of firefighter David Beanland, who was seriously injured in the Icepak coolstore blast – but everything’s working out now, reports the NZ Herald.

The story follows the battle with leukaemia of Beanland’s daughter, Paige.

Paige Beanland
Paige Beanland

Paige thought the pain she was suffering in her lymph nodes and neck was just a bout of glandular fever, writes Herald reporter James Ihaka.

Over the following two weeks, Paige, then 16, also felt a bit of back pain, which wasn’t unusual, but the bouts of vomiting and conjunctivitis certainly were. Her doctor took a precautionary blood test.

Two weeks later, the results came back. Paige had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – cancer of the white blood cells characterised by excess lymphoblasts.

“It was really devastating … My parents told me and I pretty much had to pack my bags and head straight for treatment at hospital,” she said.

Paige, who had for years enjoyed rock and roll dancing, immediately underwent a month’s intensive chemotherapy.

Two years on and Paige says she has lost count of the number of treatments she has had.

The bubbly 18-year-old came close to death last year during her treatment, with extremely high blood sugar levels. She is now temporarily using crutches – the result of high doses of steroids destroying parts of the bone in her knees.

Her Dad David was among the first crew who attended the callout to the Icepak coolstore in Tamahere, Waikato, where his mate Derek Lovell was killed.

“I was pretty upset when I heard about it,” said Paige, who was in hospital at the same time as her father. “Once I saw Dad I realised he was okay and he was going to be fine.” He could be back at work in June.

But despite her setbacks and at least two months off from Melville High School last year, Paige’s future looks highly promising. She was awarded Proxime Accessit to Dux and is the inaugural winner of the Paul Day Melville High School Scholarship for Excellence. She has also won a $3000 school leaver’s scholarship.

“I didn’t let things get in my way, I guess what happened made me more determined than anything,” she said.

With outstanding passes in level 3 mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry, Paige is about to start her early childhood education studies at Waikato University.

She has her last session of chemotherapy today, and hopes her right knee will regenerate this year so she can start dancing again.

Photo by NZ Herald photographer Sarah Ivey

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