Di­ag­no­sis ‘out of the blue’

South Waikato News - - Front Page - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.’’

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