Brave boy is can­cer-free: ‘It’s been a mir­a­cle’

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - ANNE MATHER

THE Isham fam­ily is home­ward bound, to cel­e­brate Christ­mas and the mir­a­cle of their lit­tle boy’s life.

With two bone mar­row trans­plants be­hind him, six-year-old Ned Isham is fi­nally can­cer-free.

Ned, who was di­ag­nosed with leukaemia at age two, is com­ing home to Tas­ma­nia next week af­ter re­ceiv­ing the news he is fi­nally clear of leukaemia.

“The re­sults came back show­ing he is can­cer-free,” said Ned’s mum, Dr Emily Isham. “It’s such a re­lief … it’s been a mir­a­cle.”

The Isham fam­ily, from Kingston, have been liv­ing out of suit­cases in Mel­bourne and the US over the past 18 months as they searched for a cure for Ned’s acute lym­phoblas­tic leukaemia.

But the jour­ney is over for Ned, his three sib­lings and par­ents Emily and Seth Isham. “The kids are so ex­cited – they’ve been so home­sick and they’ve been such troop­ers,” said Dr Isham.

“We’ll be home a week be­fore Christ­mas, which gives us enough time to set up a Christ­mas tree.”

The home­com­ing fol­lows the suc­cess­ful re­sults of tests taken 100 days af­ter Ned’s se­cond bone mar­row trans­plant in Mel­bourne.

The fam­ily left for Mel­bourne in June 2017 for Ned’s first bone mar­row trans­plant, us­ing mar­row from his then three-year-old sis­ter Eleanor.

When that trans­plant failed, the fam­ily moved to Seat­tle ear­lier this year to be part of a CAR T-cell ther­apy trial that was hoped to cure Ned.

Ned was able to be part of the trial af­ter a crowd-fund­ing cam­paign un­earthed an anony­mous over­seas do­na­tion of $600,000.

Although the CAR T-cell ther­apy did not cure Ned of can­cer, it re­duced the dis­ease to the point Ned was able to un­dergo fur­ther treat­ment to pre­pare him for a se­cond bone mar­row trans­plant in Mel­bourne in Au­gust.

The se­cond trans­plant has had dif­fi­cult side ef­fects, and Dr Isham said it had been a roller coaster ride over the past 18 months.

“Things have looked re­ally grim on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions,” she said.

Writ­ing in her blog, Dr Isham talks about the “ab­so­lute ex­haus­tion” of the past 18 months spent trav­el­ling, mak­ing life-and-death med­i­cal de­ci­sions and cop­ing with set­backs. Dr Isham said the all­clear 100-day re­sults did not guar­an­tee can­cer would not re­turn.

“This doesn’t pre­clude it re­turn­ing in the fu­ture, but in this mo­ment, Ned is can­cer­free, and in his words (with the naivety of a child who doesn’t re­alise this has been his last ast treat­ment op­tion): ‘That at means I don’t need any ny more trans­plants, Mum’.”

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