18 Mar 2016
Luca was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma just before he and his twin brother Devon celebrated their eighth birthday.
Luca’s mum, Carolyn, says that Luca had a very painful lump on his shin, which was initially thought to be a shin splint.
“We were careful to make sure Luca didn’t run or do any sports at school that would put pressure on his leg. It was very painful when he moved around too much.”
The family started to relax once the school year finished and Luca began playing more freely. But when the pain flared again, they immediately sought a second opinion.
An x-ray revealed something on his shin bone and the family was referred to Waikato Hospital for scans and told that Luca had cancer.
The family was quickly transferred to hospital in Auckland where it was diagnosed that Luca had Neuroblastoma.
“The tumour had cracked the bone and spread through his bone marrow to different parts of his body. Luca had small tumours on his back, hip and skull,”
For the next year he endured lengthy hospital stays, six rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and chimeric antibody treatment.
“It was an incredibly intense therapy, but very successful for Luca.”
Support through treatment and beyond
As a result of the drugs used in bone marrow transplant, Luca’s lungs were damaged and he is now under the care of a respiratory specialist.
One of the best ways for his lungs to heal and strengthen was through exercise, in particular swimming. Thanks to a Child Cancer Foundation Personal Development Grant, Luca is now swimming regularly and Carolyn says the results have been wonderful.
“The Child Cancer Foundation made the most difficult time in our lives so much easier for us. For Luca and I the extra support they gave us was invaluable,” says Carolyn.
“We met our Family Support Coordinator just after Luca was first diagnosed, and the support began then. The Foundation has helped us emotionally and financially with travel and food costs as we have been to and fro to Auckland for Luca’s treatment many times.”
Carolyn says they were also very grateful for the fun experiences the Foundation was able to offer during that time, which helped to give them some much-needed time-out as a family.
“I can't imagine how much of a more difficult journey it would have been without the support of the Child Cancer Foundation.”
How you can help
The Child Cancer Foundation is a nationwide organisation that works hard to reduce the impact of cancer. A donation from you will help us provide the support families need from that terrible time of diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond.