Diagnosis ‘out of the blue’
A Tokoroa mother never thought that a celebration of one life, would lead to her son fighting for his own.
But it was a the birthday party for a friend that the first signs of five-year-old Dante Fletcher’s acute lymphoblastic leukaemia were first noticed.
He was at the party in September 2016 when he was seen limping.
Ever since he has had to undergo weekly blood tests and chemotherapy treatments as his small body fights to kill the cancer in his white blood cells.
His mother Lisa Hale said the diagnosis came completely ‘‘out of the blue’’.
‘‘A friend thought he might of been limping because of growing pains and said to keep rubbing him down which I was doing and Dante said he felt a lot better when I did so I thought ‘OK’,’’ she said.
But things didn’t get better. Dante lost his appetite, was getting severe temperatures, and having bad bursts of temper which was out of the ordinary for the usually happy child.
Concerned for her child, she took him to see the family doctor.
‘‘She just took one look at him and sent us straight to Waikato Hospital,’’ she said.
‘‘She didn’t even do any observations or blood tests, she just knew something was seriously wrong.’’
Initially suspected to be Osteomyelitis, Dante spent a week in the hospital undergoing tests and treatments.
‘‘Osteomyelitis is a common hip infection in children and teenagers but after about 24 hours on the antibiotics to treat it they found it was not working,’’ Hale said.
‘‘They had a lot of trouble trying to get blood from Dante as he was dead afraid of needles so they put him into surgery and put a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line into his arm.
‘‘When they could access some blood they found blast cells which are cancerous cells.’’
They were sent immediately to Starship Children’s Health in Auckland where Dante was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The news left Hale in utter disbelief.
‘‘I guess it is just like a death, you are numb.’’