My beautiful boy, Hunter, was a happy three-year-old playing at the Subiaco Primary School Spring Fair on the morning of 6 November 2016. Little did we know that on that day, our world would be turned upside down.
Hunter was a little pale after an ear infection, but he was excited to be running around in the sunshine. Then my partner and I noticed that his heart was racing, and we knew something was wrong. We took him to the paramedics and his heart rate was 222 beats a minute. An ambulance rushed him to the children’s hospital. When he arrived, his heart rate had soared to 235. They stabilised his heart, and took his blood for testing.
Later that night, the doctors took us into a room and told us our beautiful baby boy had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
I was in complete shock but had to put on a brave face while still processing everything. I couldn’t even say the word, ‘Leukaemia’, out loud for the first few days. We spent the first month after his diagnosis in Ward 3B of the children’s hospital to try to fight the Leukaemia.
My fiancé’s business suffered, I had to quit my job and university. We cancelled our wedding plans. Our other son, Zac, was looked after by my parents as we were nearly always in the hospital for the next twelve months. Our whole world now revolved around saving our boy. Our once active three-year-old lost the ability to walk, feed and go to the toilet by himself. He gained a lot of weight, developed diabetes, high blood pressure, and had terrible bone pain, insomnia and mood swings.
While kids negotiated bed times, Hunter negotiated with doctors and nurses when and where to stick needles into his little body.
To date, Hunter has received 18 months of treatment for high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). This included five intense rounds of chemotherapy and two rounds of bone marrow testing. Now, in the final sixth round, Hunter has oral chemotherapy every day and once a month he goes into hospital to insert chemo into his spinal fluid and intravenously. Hunter won’t finish treatment for another two years.
The chemotherapy treatments have been devastating for Hunter. He has struggled with balance and getting up from the ground. He’s lost his reflexes and walks with a dropped foot. All his hair fell out and he is often in agony at night from the bone pain. He found it hard to eat and drink with a mouth full of ulcers. In so many ways, Hunter is no longer a normal kid. He can’t go to crowded places because of the risk of infection. Hunter also has an auto-immune condition that makes him more likely to get sick, meaning he can’t go to the shopping centre, birthday parties or playgrounds if his blood counts are low.
Most tragically, Hunter has watched some of his little friends he made in the hospital lose their battle and grow their angel wings. No child should have to endure what he has been through.
Hunter is truly my hero. He is now five and has surprised all of us. His hair’s grown and he is now in Pre-Primary and thriving! He’s taken to footy, soccer, fishing, as well as drawing, especially dinosaurs. Hunter loves a good joke and has the nurses often in stitches! He still has bad leg pain from the medications, but he just wants to play like the other kids and we let him as much as possible.
Throughout this difficult journey, the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) has been a huge source of support and friendship for Hunter, me and my family. The Foundation provides funding for world class research into fighting cancer and finding new and less toxic treatments for children with these life-threatening diseases.
The Foundation is not government funded. Only one per cent of government funding is given to children’s cancer research. This is why your help is crucial in the search for better treatments for children like Hunter.
By giving a donation today, you can help children with cancer survive and live life to the fullest.
We can’t waste a single moment when we could be funding ground-breaking research to better the lives of children like Hunter. If you have recently donated, we are so grateful.
Please give what you can today to help my boy and other children with cancer overcome these life-threatening diseases.
P.S. Your gift is tax deductible ($2.00 and over) and will mean that more children like Hunter survive cancer and live better lives. So please give generously. We can’t do this without you. If you have recently donated, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.