I just thought: 'Oh my God, what's happening?'SARA, TYLER'S MUM
Three years ago, as Tyler was jumping on his bed, Sara noticed a lump the size of a 20 cent coin on his back. While her husband Craig and eldest son Caleb stayed in Cairns, Sara and Tyler flew to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane for tests.
After endless scans and tests, Tyler was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma on his second birthday.
They said Tyler had cancer. Treatment needed to start straight away and would take nine to 12 months.
Tyler's treatment started the very next day. Sara and Tyler flew to Brisbane where Tyler started aggressive chemotherapy. This was followed by a six-week course of radiotherapy to shrink the tumour.
Thirty per cent of childhood cancer survivors will develop one or more life-altering chronic health conditions as a result of their treatment, including infertility, heart defects, neurocognitive deficits, hearing or vision loss and even secondary cancers.
Every time they knocked him out, Tyler would cling to me, saying: ‘No, mum’. Then he would go limp. I hated it.
After the initial intense phase of treatment, Tyler received ongoing maintenance chemotherapy to ensure the tumour did not grow back. He was in treatment for a total of 11 months.
Right now, our researchers are working on something special – personalised medicine. Ultimately it will enable researchers and physicians to build treatment plans specifically tailored to match the biology of the child and their cancer, while minimising the long-term effects of treatment.
It’s awful to know that my special boy will live with side-effects for the rest of his life. But Tyler’s alive and I’m so grateful for that.
Not out of the woods yet
Tyler has scans every four months and he will not be officially cured until 14 Feb 2016, after being cancer-free for five years.
My ward is full of childhood cancer patients suffering side-effects. We need to improve the quality of life for survivors.
Tyler can now ride a bike, swim and cast his fishing rod - but his bait is never in the water long enough to catch a fish as he keeps winding it in so he can cast again! He collects the eggs laid by his pet chooks himself every day.
Thank you to all the donors. Their continued support allows for much-needed research to one day provide better treatments for our kids.