Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Sale is thanks for son’s life

- By ZOE MCMAUGH Health · Cancer · Medicine · Health Conditions

Jack Hooke laughs, plays and en­joys life just like any other two year-old, but his short life has been un­like oth­ers his own age.

Five months ago Jack had his right eye re­moved to stop a very rare form of can­cer tak­ing over and ul­ti­mately claim­ing his life.

The young­ster was di­ag­nosed with Retinoblas­toma in Oc­to­ber last year.

The re­moval of his eye was a last re­sort de­ci­sion af­ter two dif­fer­ent treat­ments to elim­i­nate the tu­mour on his eye threat­ened his life.

Jack’s par­ents Mar­cus and Cass Hooke said the can­cer was di­ag­nosed af­ter what they ini­tially thought would be an ap­point­ment to ad­dress a slight turn in his eye.

‘‘He had a turned eye and we de­cided to get it checked, and a week later Jack was start­ing chemo,’’ Mar­cus said.

‘‘The size of the tu­mours was hard to mea­sure, but were large enough to prompt an al­most im­me­di­ate treat­ment and it was fairly ag­gres­sive.

‘‘Noone is re­ally sure how long they had been grow­ing when they were found, but if they had been left un­treated much longer the can­cer may have es­caped the eye.

‘‘It could have spread to the other eye, or even the brain and it may have meant Jack would no longer be with us.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant for other par­ents to know that if they are not sure about some­thing, if some­thing doesn’t feel right, you should get it checked out.’’

Retinoblas­toma is a tu­mour aris­ing in the cells of retina, and caused by a gene that con­trols the growth of cells in the eye.

While it can be in­her­ited from a par­ent, the Royal Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal says most chil­dren with the can­cer have no fam­ily his­tory.

And as far as Mar­cus is aware, there is no his­tory of the dis­ease in the fam­ily be­fore Jack’s di­ag­no­sis.

Hav­ing to watch their only child go through can­cer treat­ment was trau­matic enough for Mar­cus and Cass, but then the com­pli­ca­tions started.

‘‘Jack had a se­vere ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tion to one of the chemo­ther­apy agents, so they had to stop that pretty quickly,’’ Mar­cus said.

‘‘They then tried an­other form of chemo which was de­liv­ered straight in to the eye via his ar­te­rial sys­tem, and af­ter about a month they found a bleed on Jack’s brain dur­ing a rou­tine MRI scan, and so that was off the ta­ble too.

‘‘The re­moval of the eye then be­came the only op­tion.

‘‘While the chemo had re­duced the tu­mour slightly it was not enough, and the risks far out­weighed the ben­e­fits.’’

Un­til the turn in his eye, Mar­cus and Cass had no clue there was any­thing wrong with Jack’s eyes.

While they have been un­able to con­firm, doc­tors be­lieve his vi­sion was at least par­tially com­pro­mised by the time the tu­mour was found.

And at re­moval, they es­ti­mated he had very lit­tle sight re­main­ing in his right eye.

Jack has been fit­ted with a pros­thetic eye, which will need to be re­placed at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals as he con­tin­ues to grow — ini­tially every six months, then less fre­quently over the rest of his life.

There will also be reg­u­lar check­ups, to en­sure the can­cer does not re­turn, but oth­er­wise he’s back to be­ing a ‘‘nor­mal kid’’.

‘‘He should be all clear of can­cer now be­cause the re­moval went re­ally well, but they will con­tinue to mon­i­tor him,’’ Mar­cus said.

‘‘Jack will con­tinue to be un­der the care of the RHC un­til he is at least 18 years old, with reg­u­lar vis­its over the next three years.

‘‘He was just a nor­mal kid (be­fore we dis­cov­ered the tu­mour), and since he’s had the surgery he is back to his old self again.

‘‘He will con­tinue to lead a happy, healthy and ad­ven­tur­ous life all thanks to the won­der­ful treat­ment and care from the staff at the on­col­ogy and oph­thal­mol­ogy de­part­ments of the Royal Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.’’

For that care, Jack’s par­ents now want to ‘‘pay it for­ward’’ to the RCH’s ‘Be­yond Sight’ Aux­il­iary.

Mar­cus and his brother Tom, who man­age the fam­ily farm and East Lod­don Merino Stud at Wan­ganella, have ded­i­cated one ram from their up­com­ing ram sale to raise money for the aux­il­iary.

‘‘The Royal Chil­dren’s is a won­der­ful hos­pi­tal, and its staff are among the best in the world,’’ Mar­cus said.

‘‘The hos­pi­tal re­lies on char­ity and do­na­tions to be able to buy spe­cial­ist equip­ment, and this is our way of giv­ing back for how they helped Jack and so they can con­tinue to help other fam­i­lies.

‘‘Be­yond Sight was es­tab­lished in 2001 by a group of par­ents whose chil­dren were di­ag­nosed with Retinoblas­toma.

‘‘Funds do­nated to this aux­il­iary go to­wards med­i­cal di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment and ed­u­ca­tional tools to as­sist fam­i­lies when their child is di­ag­nosed.’’

Lot 9 is one of 60 Poll Meri­nos that will be put to auc­tion at the ram sale.

‘‘I chose that ram for the char­ity auc­tion be­cause he would suit any prop­erty.

‘‘He would per­form well in high rain­fall or pas­toral zones, he has good mus­cle and fat scores, and good breed­ing fig­ures too.

‘‘It’s hard to know how much the auc­tion will earn, but we hope he can get $3000 or more.’’

The East Lod­don Merino Stud ram sale will be held next Mon­day, Septem­ber 7 at the fam­ily prop­erty, ‘War­willah Sta­tion’ at Wan­ganella.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the auc­tion, phone Tom Hooke on 0409 399 191 or Mar­cus Hooke on 0437 172 754.

 ??  ?? ■ Jack Hooke was back to be­ing him­self just days af­ter be­ing fit­ted with his first pros­thetic eye.
■ Jack Hooke was back to be­ing him­self just days af­ter be­ing fit­ted with his first pros­thetic eye.

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