A sporting biography like no other, My Family’s Keeper sees Brad and Karina Haddin share their family’s story for the first time, from Brad’s rising career in Australian cricket to their young daughter Mia’s heartwrenching battle with cancer.
The book opens with Brad receiving a call from Karina in the middle of the night, on the other side of the world, and knowing immediately in his gut that something is very wrong with their toddler. ‘Is she going to die? Is Mia going to die?’ From that breathtaking opening, My Family’s Keeper weaves through past and present as Brad Haddin tells his family’s story as well as his own. But there’s plenty here for sports fans too, as you do get to see the ins and outs of Brad’s illustrious cricketing career, just with a twist.
Born in Cowra, Brad moved to Queanbeyan when he was 12. He played cricket for ACT and NSW as a wicket keeper and batsman before being selected for Australia in 2008. He made his test debut at the age of 30, and had a reputation as a very gritty cricketer. In 2012 he put his career on hold after finding out Mia had stage four Neuroblastoma, a cancer that attacks the nerve cells. After eight months of being by his family’s side, when Mia started to respond to treatment, Brad played for Australia again. He was named vice-captain and helped Australia win a 5-0 Ashes victory on home soil, but his celebration was cut short when Mia had a relapse, and Brad came home early. With the support of Karina and their three children, Brad made the decision to put his family first and retire from cricket, playing his last test in July 2015.
After spending his whole life striving to represent his country and be the best, it could have been a challenge for Brad to give up the game he loved so much. Not so. Brad says “as soon as I hung up that phone, I was no longer a cricketer.” You can see more from our Facebook Live interview with Brad and Karina here.
Playing 66 tests for Australia and 126 one day internationals, his stats would put him alongside the greats, but this biography is about more than cricket. As well as having an in depth recount of Mia’s diagnosis, treatment, and fight for survival, we also find out how Brad and Karina met, the birth of their children, the support of their parents and friends and the slow progression and success of his career. My Family’s Keeper also includes a beautiful photo gallery that shows Brad on and off the pitch, as well as personal shots from the Haddin family archive, including some heartbreaking images of little Mia through her fight.
These days Mia is a bright, bubbly, and cancer-free six year old, with only faint memories of the 18 months spent fighting for her life in hospital. Although even now when they drive past Westmead, Karina notes ruefully that Mia says “that’s where I used to live!” Such an aggressive level of cancer treatment at a very young age means Mia does continue to battle with different health issues, but that hasn’t stopped her from living her life to the fullest, and 2016 saw her start kindergarten – with no more than a cheerful goodbye on the day to her nervous parents!
Brad’s voice comes through candid and clear, creating an incredibly personal feel. My Family’s Keeper is a story of commitment and survival, and you finish the book not only knowing Brad, but his whole family, and the sacrifices they made. Both Brad and Karina say it was a personal struggle for them to write this book – originally, they were making notes during Mia’s treatment just so they could remember what the time had been like, if Mia asked in the future, but then they realised they had the power to help other families in their situation: “if the way we dealt we it can touch another family, make their journey a little bit easier… well then the book’s been worth it.”
Brad Haddin was the 400th player to don the baggy green, and represented Australia in all forms of international cricket, including as a member of the Australian World Cup-winning squad in 2015. Haddin also led the Sydney Sixers through the first four seasons of the Big Bash League.
Karina Haddin is a qualified radiographer who is passionate about raising awareness and vital funds for research into Neuroblastoma. As part of the 2014 Run2Cure Neuroblastoma fundraiser the Haddins’ Team Mia personally raised $30,000 and with the support of the NSW Blues, the overall total raised for neuroblastoma research was $220,000.