Here Tracy Greeves, 43, tells the story in her own words.
‘Do you know what this is?’ my husband Cameron, 44, said.
Drying our son Nicholas, five, he’d spotted a lump near his groin.
As a nurse, I thought he might have a hernia.
Taking him to the GP, he was sent for an ultrasound and blood tests which showed he had enlarged lymph nodes near his groin and bladder.
Next, he was given an MRI and a biopsy.
Waiting for the results, I felt anxious.
Sometimes Nicholas would say he was tired after school.
And he had night sweats occasionally but he was cheerful and healthy, loving swimming and running with his sister Alex, then aged 10.
<I hope something’s not seriously wrong,> I thought.
So I was horrified when the doctor explained the results.
‘Nicholas has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia,’ he said. Shortened to ALL, it was a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Eighty per cent of Nicholas’ bone marrow had been taken over by the cancer cells.
Fortunately, we’d caught it early.
He hadn’t yet developed the tell-tale signs of leukaemia, like bruising or rashes.
Nicholas started chemotherapy the next day.
‘You aren’t very well, so you need to take medicine to fix it,’ I said gently. ‘But it will make you feel sick.’
The first month of chemo was aggressive to hit the cancer hard.
Nicholas’ hair fell out in clumps, so we shaved it all off.
He coped brilliantly and Alex helped keep him smiling.
I lived at the hospital, only going home to swap places with my husband.
Finally, in December, 2015, after three tortuous years Nicholas was given the all clear.
<We made it!> I thought.
Alex, now 16, wanted to do something to help other cancer patients, so she and Nicholas shaved their heads for the World’s Greatest Shave in December.
When they raised $7,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation I was so proud.
The Leukaemia Foundation helped my family and I so much during the toughest time in our life.
Now, Nicholas, 11, needs six-monthly check-ups. At the five-year mark he will officially be in remission.
Symptoms can be hidden and mistaken for just ‘growing pains.’
If you see the signs, please get it checked. I want to urge everyone to be vigilant.
Detect cancer as soon as you can.
What is ALL?
- More than 300 people are diagnosed with ALL each year in Australia.
- It can occur at any age but is more common in under-14s.
- It is the most common type of childhood cancer and is more common in boys than girls.
For more information visit www.leukaemia.org.au