The first night Luciano was in hospital, I couldn’t believe I was sitting in the children’s cancer ward.Maria, Luciano's mum
Luciano had not long celebrated his first birthday when, after multiple bouts of pneumonia, a tumour was found in his chest and Maria received the shocking news her baby son had been diagnosed with cancer.
Luciano was stage 3 when he was diagnosed at 14 months, and because the tumour pushing up against his lungs was so large, they couldn’t operate. Within two days of diagnosis, Luciano was having treatment, and endured four rounds of chemotherapy. An operation to remove the tumour meant Luciano was in intensive care, where one of his lungs collapsed. He then needed four more rounds of chemotherapy - all of this and he wasn’t yet 18 months old.
I’d never even thought about children’s cancer before and suddenly my baby boy had only a fifty per cent chance of survival.
Maria says the time Luciano spent in hospital was the darkest period of his very young life. Within two days of diagnosis, Luciano had his first blood transfusion, a central line, his first biopsy, bone marrow test and bone scan. Within a week he had his first round of chemotherapy. The next week he had another biopsy and tests for his hearing and heart and kidneys.
We were in hospital for months. I couldn’t believe his little body could take all of this cancer treatment.
Luciano’s diagnosis and treatment affected the whole family, and his sister Analisa found it particularly hard to understand what was happening when Maria was in hospital with Luciano. She would get very upset when she woke up and her mum and brother were not there.
Luciano’s treatment was a success but he still has a mass that the chemotherapy and surgery couldn’t remove completely. It hasn’t grown but Luciano has to go back every year for scans – for the rest of his life. So far all has been clear, but the family are always very anxious before they receive the results.
More research is needed into childhood cancers. If Luciano’s cancer comes back, it would be wonderful to get research to a point where there is a 100 per cent survival rate for neuroblastoma.
To see Luciano today as a happy, outgoing school-boy, you would hardly believe the trauma he went through at such a young age. But to his mum Maria it seems like only yesterday that she was trying to comfort her baby boy as he screamed in pain and fear. Luciano’s treatment leaves a lasting impact. His joints have been affected and he has hardened arteries, and though he has been free of cancer for 10 years, his annual checks still result in a great deal of stress for the family.
It’s always on our minds that if he relapses, he’ll have to face all of that treatment again. And even then he will have only a 15 per cent chance of beating it.