Tommy’s special bear

Tommy’s special bear

Thanks to years of research funded by people like you, Tommy is on track to recover from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. But having been diagnosed at just 19-months-old, the pain, trauma and side effects of treatment have impacted him all the same.

Thanks to years of research funded by people like you, Tommy is on track to recover from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. But having been diagnosed at just 19-months-old, the pain, trauma and side effects of treatment have impacted him all the same. His special bear, donated by a kind person like you, has been by his side throughout his cancer journey, giving him the courage he needs to face the scary world of cancer.

For Emily and Ricky McGuire, life before Tommy’s diagnosis was idyllic. Long days were spent playing in the paddock behind their house, three hours south of Perth in rural WA. Helping walk the family dogs and learning to hit golf balls with his dad were regular activities for Tommy as a carefree little boy, with the family farm acting as a dream playground for the eldest of the two McGuire boys. For Emily, it was everything she could hope to give her son.

For 950 families each year in Australia, just like the McGuires, cancer can appear from nowhere for no apparent reason. Speaking of when Tommy was first diagnosed, Emily says:

“It was just by chance that we sort of caught it at all. Because he goes to daycare twice a week, he’d picked up some germs. First, he had a cold, and then he had another one, but he never really recovered colour-wise from the second one − he was quite pale. The doctors at the time thought it was just a virus.

“But then the next week, I don’t know why, but I must have just had a weird feeling that something wasn’t quite right. So, I went and asked for blood tests on that Monday, and we went and got them that same Monday. And at five o’clock in the afternoon, we got a call to go up to the emergency hospital in our town, because his haemoglobin levels were really, really low. They’d already called the haematologist at Perth Children’s Hospital, so when we arrived, they already knew why we’d come up.

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“All the way out on the drive to Perth − a three-hour trip − my mind was obviously going nuts. As a parent, you sort of know deep down, I guess, that something is not right when it isn’t right. I think the worst part was waiting for the diagnosis. It wasn’t just done in a day; it took a few days to find out for sure.”

“I think it was by Wednesday that he was diagnosed with leukaemia. So, it all happened extremely quickly and we’re quite fortunate that we were onto it, and he didn’t get super, super unwell before starting treatment. You barely could tell he was unwell, except for his lack of colour.”

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For the McGuires, Tommy’s diagnosis meant their trip to Perth wasn’t a short one. He began treatment quickly, but due to infections related to his treatment and other harsh side effects that left him weak and temporarily unable to walk, the family have had to temporarily relocate for the duration. Speaking of seeing the reality of childhood cancer treatments, Emily says:

“Although it’s necessary to save his life, there’s no way you can explain to a 19-month-old child what’s going on. Tommy just doesn’t understand why we’ve had to move hours away from our home, why he had to stay in hospital for a month on end, or why the treatments he was given made him feel sick and left him weak and temporarily unable to walk. He just had no idea why he was feeling fine one day and the next all of this was going on… it was so traumatic to see him deteriorating.”

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To get through it, a very special friend, donated by a kind person like you made his way to Tommy’s side. His bear from The Kids’ Cancer Project is something that Emily credits as being a game-changer in taking the fear away from the countless medical procedures Tommy now faced:

“To begin with, he had such a big problem with all the medical procedures. The nurses couldn’t even put the blood pressure cuff on or take his temperature, let alone things like give him his chemo and lumbar punctures.

“But, with little Sammy Superhero bear by his side, step-by-step, they were able to do it all together. We did so much role-play with his bear to get him comfortable with what was going on – that bear has been covered in plasters, had blood tests done and all sorts!”

“Even though Tommy doesn’t really know what’s going on, he knows that Sammy is his special bear and he’s safe with it by his side.”

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The generosity of supporters like you is giving thousands of kids with cancer like Tommy around Australia the courage to face their cancer treatments. Not only does your generosity give them strength and a cuddle buddy during the most difficult time of their lives, but it also helps researchers develop more effective and less damaging cancer treatments for kids like Tommy, with the proceeds of every single bear going directly to kids’ cancer research.

Despite enduring some horrible side effects, Emily and the family count themselves lucky that previous research means their little one’s chances of recovery are looking very strong, and that people like you have been there to help support them along the way. She says:

“I don’t know what else to say other than thank you for giving my little boy that. If someone like you hadn’t made the decision to donate a bear, Tommy might not have the confidence and comfort Sammy has given him and his cancer journey would have been a much scarier place.”

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To donate a bear today to provide comfort to another kid with cancer like Tommy, please click the button below:

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