Cancer treatment left little Tommy temporarily unable to walk. For other kids, it’s not temporary. Read Tommy’s story here….

Cancer treatment left little Tommy temporarily unable to walk. For other kids, it’s not temporary. Read Tommy’s story here

Emily McGuire pictured with son Tommy

Before he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, toddler Tommy’s world was beautiful and carefree. His mum Emily McGuire recalls sunny days playing in the paddock behind their house trying to hit golf balls with his dad, exploring the excitement of their family farm and just generally being a kid… “It was everything you could hope to give your son,” she says.

Then last May she and her partner, Ricky, found out their little boy had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at just 19-months-old. Here she tells her story:

Emily with her partner, Ricky and their two sons, Tommy and Oliver

“I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know anything about cancer treatments or what was going to happen to him,” Emily explains of the crash course in cancer treatments she was about to receive upon Tommy’s diagnosis.

“We’ve had our crash course in what cancer treatments can do to a little body, and it isn’t pretty. Why is it that the only way to save him was with a drug that damaged his nerves and left him temporarily unable to walk, leaving him deteriorating before our eyes?”

Amongst all the lessons she learnt in their “awful journey”, Emily says she very quickly learnt the only way to give kids better cancer treatments is through research. 

“One thing that struck me was, ‘what can I do to change this? How can I help?’ I’m not a scientist, and I sadly don't have millions of dollars I can donate to help researchers. But I can share my story with you. Because I know that coming together with other people like me who want change, who want to help other kids with cancer, is the most powerful thing I can do.”

Sharing Tommy’s story isn’t easy. Emily says she and her partner have stayed as positive as they can throughout it all and thankfully, Tommy’s chances of a full recovery are looking promising. “But some parts of it have been truly horrendous,” she admits.

“Seeing him lose his ability to walk and all his strength just evaporate was probably the worst. We were warned about it by the doctors, but actually seeing it was really quite confronting. It was so traumatic − he’s so young and he just had no idea why he was fine one day, the next day he’s in hospital and can’t walk.

“It can be hard to stay optimistic sometimes, but you’ve got to take the silver linings where you can. It might sound crazy given the journey we’ve been on, but I count myself lucky – lucky in an unlucky situation is what I say. The fact that he's with us today and that the side effects he’s suffered should only be temporary is all that matters to me right now. 

Emily says some of the other families they’ve met on this journey have no end in sight and their little ones don’t have the same hope of a full recovery like Tommy does. “It’s just not fair.” 

“We were told that 50 years ago, Tommy’s cancer probably would have been incurable, but today his future is looking bright − that shows how effective the support of people who generously donate is. However, there's still a way to go.

“I truly hope you can support vital kids’ cancer research today. Your gift could mean families in the future don’t have to hope. With better treatments, survival might one day be certain for all kids, and side effects a thing of the past.”

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You can donate to help fund vital research to improve cancer treatments for children like Tommy by clicking the button below. If you make your gift before 30 June it’s fully tax-deductible.

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