Smil­ing Kobi on the long road to re­cov­ery

Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion plays big role in young­ster’s fight­back

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS - Sherele Moody sherele.moody@news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

YOU can’t wipe the smile from lit­tle Kobi May­nard’s dial.

The six-year-old lad is happy and thriv­ing in the wake of 10 months of in­ten­sive can­cer treat­ment at the Lady Ci­lento Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane.

“I was wor­ried about some bruis­ing on his leg and I thought it might have been be­cause he was get­ting bul­lied at school,” Kobi’s mother said of find­ing strange marks on her son in De­cem­ber last year.

“Then I thought he was lack­ing in iron.

“I took him to the doc­tors and asked them to do a blood test.”

That blood test de­liv­ered the worst pos­si­ble news for Lisa and her hus­band Jayd – their lit­tle boy had acute lym­phoblas­tic leukaemia.

Known as ALL, the dis­ease causes the body pro­duce im­ma­ture white blood cells that in turn pre­vent the bone mar­row from creat­ing nor­mal healthy blood cells.

Once the white cells move into the blood­stream, they cause anaemia, bleed­ing and bruis­ing so doc­tors must move fast to stem the dam­age.

The dis­ease im­pacts about 300 Aus­tralians each year and is usu­ally found in chil­dren un­der 14 years old.

While it is the most com­mon of all child­hood can­cers, re­searchers are not en­tirely sure why it in­fects healthy young­sters like Kobi.

Shortly after he was di­ag­nosed, Kobi, his brother Trey and his mother and fa­ther ar­rived at Lady Ci­lento.

“It was all a bit over­whelm­ing,” Lisa said.

“You au­to­mat­i­cally think that ev­ery­thing you had hoped and dreamed for your child would be taken away.

“I thought straight away ‘How are we go­ing to get through this’?”

Tak­ing one day at a time, Kobi and his fam­ily pre­pared for the lad to un­dergo in­ten­sive chemo­ther­apy treat­ments.

But things took a po­ten­tially deadly turn when the lit­tle boy’s heart stopped beat­ing be­cause of se­vere ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tion to his med­i­ca­tion.

“I was there when it hap­pened – I watched him have no pulse and he had to be re­vived,” Lisa said.

“He had to be in in­ten­sive care.”

Doc­tors were forced to re­think their ap­proach to Kobi’s treat­ment.

The ther­apy had a ma­jor im­pact on his body and his men­tal health, yet Kobi al­ways put on a brave face in front of his par­ents and brother.

“He was try­ing to hide how sick he was from us,” Lisa said.

Lit­tle Trey re­fused to let his brother – and best mate – down, of­ten of­fer­ing to take his sib­ling’s med­i­ca­tion so Kobi would not have to be crook.

“We saw how re­silient Kobi was and we de­cided to be re­ally pos­i­tive,” Lisa said.

“We wanted him to know we were all be­hind him.”

Kobi is now home, where he still has daily chemo, steroids and an­tibi­otics and makes reg­u­lar trips back to Bris­bane for check-ups.

He is in kindy and has joined the lo­cal nip­pers squad, im­press­ing his loved ones as he goes from strength to strength.

“Kobi is on chemo for an­other three years then after that they look at his five-year sur­vival rates,” Lisa said.

“There are sta­tis­tics that go with that but we refuse to think about that – we just think about to­day and only to­day.”

Lisa said the hos­pi­tal staff and the sup­port of the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion made her son’s hos­pi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence eas­ier to get through.

“Kobi would spend days stuck in his hos­pi­tal bed so when the CHF vol­un­teers came to visit they would make his day a lot bet­ter,” Lisa said.

“This gave me time to sit back and take a breather – it was amaz­ing.”

Kobi is one of 994 north­ern New South Wales res­i­dents treated at Lady Ci­lento last fi­nan­cial year.

The young­ster is tak­ing on a big chal­lenge, help­ing to pro­mote the an­nual Chan­nel Nine Telethon sup­port­ing the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion this Satur­day

The ap­peal aims to raise $11 mil­lion.

As well as sup­port­ing pa­tients at LCCH, money raised dur­ing the telethon pays for vi­tal med­i­cal equip­ment, re­search and a range of med­i­cal ser­vices at Lady Ci­lento and through­out re­gional Queens­land and north­ern NSW. “The foun­da­tion and its work are out­stand­ing,” Lisa said.

PHOTO: SCOTT DAVIS

IN GOOD CARE: Jayd, Kobi, Lisa and Trey May­nard re­ceived sup­port from the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion dur­ing Kobi’s can­cer bat­tle.

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