Brave Huntar gets his wish
For Upper Hutt’s Huntar Sammons, being in charge of heavy digging machinery was a wish come true.
‘‘He loved it, he hasn’t stopped smiling and talking about it,’’ Michelle Hailwood said of her 11-year-old son’s Make-A-Wish visit with staff – and machines – at the Trentham home of the RDL Group.
For Huntar it was a bright spot in what has been a tough and scary 18 months.
In April 2016, the Trentham youngster was rushed to Christchurch hospital after scans revealed large masses on his brain which spinal fluid and bone marrow testing soon confirmed as Burkitt Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
‘‘His whole jaw was swollen. He was in intense pain and was passing out,’’ Hailwood said.
Huntar’s chemotherapy was tough going and while in September, 2016 he was declared cancer free, the treatment came at an unexpected and heavy cost.
‘‘With his third cycle of chemotherapy he had a severe reaction which left him with damage to his spinal nerves, paralysed. He lost all feeling from the chest down, he couldn’t tell if things were hot or cold and we were told it was 50/50 that it would go away.’’
The treatment complication is ‘‘very, very rare ‘‘ and the possibility Huntar might not walk again was very real.
The sudden paralysis meant Huntar and his mother headed to the Wilson Centre in Auckland rather than home after their time in Christchurch, .
There they learned Huntar was clear of cancer but they already knew he faced more big challenges.
Happily things did improve and after intensive rehabilitation Huntar clambered onto the road to recovery.
‘‘A week before Christmas we were able to go home, to stay,’’ Hailwood said.
‘‘Huntar could support himself to stand but he couldn’t walk. We had had ramps and rails put in and they were needed.
‘‘Now he’s good, he can walk for a little bit but it’s still with a limp.’’
His mobility and strength is improving with home-based physiotherapy every day for at least another year or more.
This school term Huntar is aiming to attend one full day a week at St Brendan’s primary and two hours on other days.
‘‘I was working but basically I’m his carer now,’’ Hailwood said of her ‘‘brave and resilient’’ boy.
‘‘He has his bad days, obviously, but not too many consider- ing what he’s been through.
‘‘We know there is still a long way to go but we also know every day is a little better than the last.’’
And October 28, the day when the Make a Wish Foundation and the RDL Group combined to give Huntar his wish was definitely one of those.
With support from his parents, including a lift up into the excavator cabin from his dad, Ricky Sammons, Huntar tried his hand as an excavator driver.
Wearing a hard hat and a personalised vest, he also relished the chance to take a spin in a truck and showed he was pretty handy on the horn.’’
Huntar Sammons, with his father Ricky, gets his wish to drive an earthworks excavator at the premises of the RDL Group in Upper Hutt. Inset, checking out a truck. Huntar Sammons' mum, Michelle Hailwood