Josh's Story

Josh's story

Before Josh got sick, I had no idea kids even got cancer.

Renee, Josh's mum Renee, Josh's mum

When Josh was eight months old, he became very restless at night - constantly tossing and turning. He refused to crawl or put any weight on his tummy. Josh was Renee's third child - so she knew it wasn't just teething.

meet Josh

Meet Josh


After many different doctors, medicines and tablets, Renee took Josh to the local medical centre. The nurse on duty noticed the left side of his stomach was rock hard and suggested an ultrasound.

Josh Ultrasound

A mass

The ultrasound revealed a mass on Josh's left kidney. He and Renee were taken by ambulance to emergency at Wollongong Hospital, then to Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

They transferred him to the cancer ward at about 1am - but it still hadn't dawned on me that it was cancer.

Renee, Josh's mumRenee, Josh's mum

The tumour grows

After an x-ray and more ultrasounds, doctors discovered Josh's tumour had grown. He was booked in for an operation one week later.

Josh The tumour grows


During the six-hour surgery, the tumour burst - so Josh's entire left kidney and part of his diaphragm were removed. He spent 48 hours in intensive care.


A team of doctors informed Renee that they'd tested the tumour, and it wasn't benign. Josh was diagnosed with a malignant kidney cancer known as Wilms' tumour.

Also known as nephroblastoma, Wilms' tumour is the most common kidney cancer in children. It most often occurs in just one kidney, though it can sometimes be found in both kidneys.

I burst in to tears. I couldn't believe it was cancer.

Renee, Josh's mumRenee, Josh's mum


Ten days after his operation, Josh started radiation which meant he was given a general anaesthetic every day. He became very sick and vomited constantly.

Josh Radiation

The first time he was put under, he was struggling and his eyes rolled back in his head. I was so distraught I had to be escorted from the room.

Renee, Josh's mumRenee, Josh's mum

Hospital to home & back again

Josh had a port put in and went home with his family - only to be re-admitted the next day with a fever. He didn't go home again until Christmas Eve and returned to hospital every week for chemo.

Josh Hospital to home & back again

Jason and I tag-teamed between the hospital and home, looking after Josh and his two older sisters.

Renee, Josh's mumRenee, Josh's mum

Preparing for the worst

In February 2014, Josh's liver started to shut down due to the drugs he was on. He was airlifted to Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, where he remained for four weeks.

At one point he stopped breathing. We were told to expect the worst - but the doctors brought him back to life.

Renee, Josh's mumRenee, Josh's mum

First step

In March 2014, when he was 16 months old, Josh tried to take his first step and broke his leg - his bones were so brittle. He was in a full leg cast until he finished chemo in June.

Josh First step

Josh today

Now nearly three, Josh loves Thomas the Tank Engine. He is very delayed, his growth is stunted and he suffers anxiety - but he continues to smile and is an inspiration to Renee, Jason and sisters Madison and Aliyrah.

Josh Josh today

Late effects of the treatment given when a child has cancer only become apparent over time. Children's Cancer Institute's Long-Term Follow-Up program is teaching us more about late effects and how they can be minimised, to ensure the best possible quality of life for survivors.

Nanoparticle technology has the potential to increase survival rates and reduce side-effects for children like Josh.

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