“When our son, Leo, was seven months old we noticed he was frequently sick. Following a very high temperature that would not break, Leo’s abdomen began to swell. When the doctor saw Leo’s stomach his eyes widened with panic. My partner, Dave, and I knew we were in serious trouble.
I’ll never forget the night Leo’s doctor told us to rush him to the emergency room.
An ultrasound revealed an unknown 14 cm mass growing in the right side of Leo’s abdomen. Our son was getting more ill by the day, he would cry in pain all through the night. His fever was now constant and the lump in his abdomen was larger than ever before.
For seven hours and 45 minutes, we reeled with anxiety and fear. I would sit, I would stand, I would cry, I would stare, and I would pace back and forth. It was excruciating.
As we walked into the PICU where Leo was recovering, nothing could have prepared us for the sight of our baby after his surgery. He was bruised and there were tubes everywhere. He had a huge gash across his tiny belly and was struggling to breathe.
When we got the tumour pathology results, the oncologist couldn’t hide his concern and before he could even speak I knew it was bad news.
Leo underwent eight months of debilitating chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He was too young to communicate to him what was happening. All we could do was to try and make each hospital experience as fun as possible for him. We’d take toys and snacks and pretend to be happy. As soon as I would leave the room, the floodgates would open. It was heartbreaking to see our son suffer.
Finally, we reached the end of the treatment regime and Leo was given a full body scan.
The feeling of happiness we experienced was mixed with other emotions: fear, survivor’s guilt, and re-adjustment into our ‘new normal’ life. But with this came the acknowledgement that the only thing to do is to live each day and live it well – and it is like learning to live again.
Please donate this Christmas to give the gift of life-saving cancer research and help more Aussie kids like our Leo.
– Susan, ACRF supporter