Life can throw anyone a curve ball as Hugh, 17, and his family discovered when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Yet in little over a year, Hugh was back on the path to achieving his dreams – and then some.
Hugh was happily juggling school with a busy competitive cricket schedule.
So, it was no surprise to Hugh’s mum Lee when he complained of a pain in his left leg. “We thought it was normal,” Hugh recalls. “Mum said ‘You're playing cricket three times a week, you have to expect some aches and pains’.”
Still, Lee sent Hugh to see his physiotherapist Ben. It was so fortunate she did. Ben suspected something serious. He immediately ordered an ultrasound.
“Even we could see something wasn't good,” says Hugh. “The ultrasound pictures looked like honeycomb. They asked us to wait for an X-ray and a CAT scan. We were starting to worry.”
Soon after, Hugh was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous tumour in his left fibula (knee bone). His family was in shock.
Just 15 days later, Hugh began nine months of life-saving treatment., Hugh was told he could lose his left leg, and with it potentially his dreams of cricket success.
“I had 12 weeks of chemotherapy, then limb salvage surgery to remove the tumour and a further 12 weeks of chemotherapy,” Hugh remembers. “It was exhausting, but fortunately I was in good hands and I didn’t lose my leg.”
Hugh was determined to stay positive and continued to go to school when he was well enough during chemotherapy. He even competed in his school athletics carnival, his mate huffing and puffing as he pushed Hugh’s wheelchair in the 800 metre sprint.
Not surprisingly, cricket remained Hugh’s priority.
“I went to cricket training as often as I could,” he says. “I couldn't train but would stand at the nets offering advice and sometimes I ran drills for my coaches.”
The support of Hugh’s family was vital to cope with the ups and downs of cancer treatment. And Redkite’s help made sure his parents and big brother Finn could be there for Hugh from the moment he entered hospital. It began when Hugh received the signature Redkite Red Bag full of essentials to make the hospital stay more comfortable for them.
And like many parents of young people receiving cancer treatment, Hugh’s mum Lee had to stop working to care for him. Redkite also provided vital financial support during this time to help cover bills, groceries and petrol. This really took the pressure off.
Just before Christmas, after nine months of treatment, Hugh received momentous news - his body showed no evidence of cancer.
It was at this point that Redkite Education and Career Specialists facilitated tutoring for Hugh, so he could catch up on missed education and keep pace with his peers. Hugh also received a Dare to Dream Scholarship from Redkite, to use to pursue his cricket career.
Recently, Hugh was offered the chance to play the 2018 cricket season with an English club – a life-changing opportunity. He is well on the way to achieving his dreams.
Yet, Hugh says it’s also the simple things that mean the most right now. “I have enjoyed learning to drive and hanging out with friends,” he says. “Just being a normal teenager feels pretty good!”