“When the doctor was talking to me Oscar woke up, looked over at me and my heart broke thinking about what he was about to go through.”Angela, Oscar's Mum
Oscar was an active, outgoing child who loved trips on his dad’s boat. But when his dad discovered a lump in his stomach, leading to a diagnosis of Burkitt’s Lymphoma, it turned his life and that of his family upside down.
At four years old, Oscar was an active, outgoing, friendly child who had lots of friends at Kindy. He loved being part of family trips to Magnetic Island on his dad’s boat. He loved being outside, climbing anything and everything he could, and swimming in the pool with big sister Isla.
While at kindy, Oscar had a sudden onset of stomach pain and vomiting. While this cleared up quickly, a couple of weeks later Oscar complained of feeling sick again. His Dad felt his stomach and discovered a large lump. An initial diagnosis of appendicitis saw Oscar taken to the emergency department, where he underwent surgery. Surgeons discovered his appendix was fine but they found and removed a mass from his abdomen.
“They had to do a laparotomy (a large incision) in his abdomen, and they removed the mass and approximately 20cm of bowel.”
Samples of the mass were sent to pathology for analysis. Angela was sitting at Oscar’s bedside when the paediatric surgeon and nurses told them they believed it was cancer. Oscar was flown to Brisbane for further diagnosis and treatment. Testing confirmed Burkitt’s Lymphoma, Stage 3B. It was found that as well as the initial large tumour they found in his abdomen, he also had multiple smaller tumours throughout his chest.
Burkitt’s lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in which cancer starts in immune cells. The cancer is recognised as the fastest-growing human tumour and is rapidly fatal if left untreated.
Oscar underwent four months of intensive chemotherapy. His chemotherapy rounds were up to a week long, and that involved regular intrathecal chemotherapy via lumbar puncture, for which he had to be anaesthetised. Oscar suffered severe mucositis of his bowel from his chemotherapy, which saw his stays in hospital extended or was re-admitted to manage his pain.
“As much as our lives had been turned upside down by Oscar’s diagnosis, we knew we could get through anything as long as Oscar was going to be okay in the end.”
With Oscar to receive chemotherapy in Brisbane, his family travelled from Townsville and both of his parents stopped working so they could be together as a family. It was a new world of hospital stays, outpatient appointments and spending time with Oscar.
Some of the side effects of the treatment for Oscar included severe mucositis, pain, vomiting, weight loss, hair loss, low haemoglobin requiring blood transfusions, bruising and lethargy. He now has a constant nasal drip and nasal stuffiness after his treatment.
Oscar is in remission, and is a happy, healthy and very active little boy. He loves playing soccer with his team, loves anything Armyrelated, and regularly has ‘Nerf Wars’ with other kids in our neighbourhood. However, for mum Angela, there will always be a worry of relapse or another form of cancer developing.
In July 2018 Oscar's dad, Marc, took part in the 20th Anniversary of the Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride, raising $400k towards much-needed funds for the Children's Cancer Institute. The Townsville to Cairns bike ride has raised over $6m for the Children's Cancer Institute over the past 20 years.
“I worry that Oscar will develop another form of cancer due to the treatment he had for his Burkitt’s Lymphoma.”