“Imagine being told your child was going to pass away within two years if a transplant wasn’t successful — and then being told that you’re the donor.”
That was the reality for Prue from Townsville, mother of Chase, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a type of blood cancer, at just four years of age in December 2018.
Chase was not experiencing any common warning signs. "The first signs of illness were fevers and night sweats. These started on a Monday and they were a high 39+ for the days that followed," Prue recalls.
"By Sunday afternoon the fevers were 40+ and Panadol/Nurofen were no longer working. I decided enough was enough.... We headed to the hospital for some test results, hoping to be back by dinner time that night. Little did I know we wouldn’t return home for over six months...”
“In the ED, I was on high alert. While the phone calls the doctor was making were hard to hear, the computer within my line of sight was easy to read. ONCOLOGY. That was when I knew without a doubt our son had cancer. And so began our journey.”
Being from Townsville, Prue and her family faced a 1,300 km journey to Brisbane to be closer to the life-saving treatment for Chase. Thankfully, they were not alone.
“The housing provided by the Leukaemia Foundation while we were regularly commuting to the hospital was an absolute blessing, and we had a little community there.
For us, the Leukaemia Foundation supported the family. Providing a place to call home while we were in Brisbane and checking in on mum and dad during the journey to make sure we were coping and helping us along the way."
"I leaned on the Blood Cancer Support Coordinators at the village in some critical moments during our journey. You learn a whole new language, and I remember ducking my head into their office to ask what this acronym meant or what they know about this drug or process. They were never too busy to walk you through some of the medical jargon or just have a chat.”
Chase endured numerous rounds of intense chemotherapy and drugs, and a bone marrow transplant in the months following his diagnosis. His donor? Prue herself.
“I was a 100% match for Chase, which is very rare for a parent. Imagine being told your child would pass away within the next two years if a transplant wasn’t successful — and then being told as the mother that you're the donor. So, if I didn’t do it, he would die. And if I did do it, and it failed, he’d die.
"I’m still not sure I have processed those alternatives. At the time, I just focused on the process and trusted the science.”
Thankfully, the transplant was a success, and in March 2022, Chase finally got to ring the bell, signaling the end of his treatment.
As Chase enters a new, post-treatment phase of his blood cancer journey, Prue is hopeful for what lies ahead. “For now, he is a happy 7-year-old that loves Pokémon, Beyblades and playing with his mates. We try to live in the moment and appreciate that we are still together, free from the hospital and, in Chase’s case, Leukaemia cells.”