It was 23 years ago this week that Cecily Johnson lost her 12-year-old daughter Laine to a terrible, degenerative disease she suffered because of the measles infection she'd contracted as a baby.
Determined not to let her baby girl's horrific experience be in vain, Cecily has shared a heart wrenching post, urging everyone to get the protection afforded by vaccination.
Cecily Johnson's heartbreaking dedication to her daughter has gone viral.
Cecily writes; "In this photo she had gone blind and kept saying everything was white and begged to see my face one more time, the hardest thing I have ever heard. A week later she couldn't speak anymore."
Laine died of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a horrific disease that left her blind within two weeks of diagnosis at seven years old, mute not long after that and by the time of her death at age 12, Laine was completely bedridden, unable to do anything for herself.
"This is not a sympathy post, but asking for all to speak her name today and tell someone how important it is to immunise," writes Cecily.
Laine was a star pupil who was enrolled in her school's gifted program before SSPE struck.
Laine became infected with measles as an innocent 10-and-a-half month old baby, too early for her 12-month measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.
While Laine seemingly recovered from measles, SSPE lay dormant in her system, making it's devastating blow when the young girl with a huge future was seven years old.
Measles is not something to take lightly
Little Laine had long dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, and as a star pupil who was enrolled in her school's gifted program there was every chance of her dream coming true. Her mum, Cecily was certain of it.
So when her bright, inquisitive seven-year-old daughter began to fail basic instructions and complained of feeling 'dumb', Cecily Johnson knew something was wrong.
Doctors initially brushed off her concerns, but Registered Nurse Cecily knew that what was happening was not right.
Eventually, after flying to Sydney to seek expert paediatric opinion, a doctor asked if Laine had ever had measles.
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Recognising the symptoms of SSPE which normally occurrs within a decade of a child having the measles, a lumbur puncture was ordered and Cecily's worst nightmare was confirmed.
Her beautiful Laine deteriorated quickly. Within two weeks Laine was blind. Then she lost the ability to walk or speak.
"I'd nursed cases of SSPE, I knew what was in store," Cecily tells Now To Love.
For five years, little Laine endured pain and misery before losing her battle at the tender age of 12.
"She didn't deserve that life," says Cecily, who admits to feeling relieved when Laine's journey did eventually come to an end.
"I wasn't relieved for myself, but I was for her. She didn't want to live like that. She had nothing in her life except being washed and fed on repeat. I used to take her out, of course, but there was nothing she was able to enjoy."
A passionate vaccination advocate, Cecily urges everyone in the community to ensure their vaccinations are up to date. For the heartbroken mother, a measles outbreak brings up all kinds of memories and fears for those around her.
Not only is there a risk of suffering SSPE after a case of measles, but contracting measles itself can be devastating for anyone, particularly those with a compromised immune system.
"I get so upset when people choose not to vaccinate, because you are putting all the little bubs at risk, not just your own."