Brave boys cancer fight

Ru­ral fam­ily needs com­mu­nity help to give bright son best shot at life

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

THE Funch fam­ily are fight­ing for more time.

Every minute, hour, day, week and month is pre­cious to them as their five-year-old son Kye is in a fight for his life.

Although Kye acts like a reg­u­lar Prep stu­dent, he’s a happy kid who loves to run about, the type of brain tu­mour he has, on av­er­age, be­comes fa­tal af­ter nine months from di­ag­no­sis.

Ex­pen­sive over­seas treat­ment may be his only hope for sur­vival.

So, as Kye’s fam­ily does ev­ery­thing in their power to give their son more time, next month they will be ask­ing com­peti­tors to ride time, dur­ing a char­ity rodeo that will raise funds for treat­ment.

“There are lim­ited op­tions here in Aus­tralia,” Kye’s dad Scott Funch ex­plained.

“There is no cure for it at the mo­ment but re­searchers are try­ing very, very hard – we want to be pre­pared if some­thing does come up over­seas.

“There is work be­ing done in Mex­ico, some fam­i­lies are choos­ing that.”

SHOCK DI­AG­NO­SIS

The Funch fam­ily is based at Mil­man about 30km north of Rock­hamp­ton.

To say Kye’s di­ag­no­sis turned their lives up­side down would be an un­der­state­ment.

Af­ter notic­ing Kye was strug­gling with bal­ance and had a change in his speech, there was only a short time frame un­til they sat down with doc­tors and a so­cial worker who ex­plained their son had a brain tu­mour.

The di­ag­no­sis was on Septem­ber 26.

Within hours he was flown to Bris­bane where he un­der­went 10 weeks of ra­di­a­tion ther­apy.

Dur­ing this time Scott, a hum­ble fam­ily man em­ployed by SunWater, and mum Cin­na­mon, who works at Wool­worths, be­came ex­perts in their boy’s con­di­tion.

Med­i­cally, it’s called an In­trin­sic Pon­tine Glioma (DIPG) brain tu­mour.

But Scott can briefly sum that up as “rare”, ag­gres­sive and a tu­mour within the brain stem.

“So with Kye this af­fects his bal­ance, speech and it was hard for him to go to the toi­let,” he said.

It’s be­lieved there are only be­tween eight and 10 peo­ple di­ag­nosed in Aus­tralia, but there are two cases in Rock­hamp­ton, he said.

“The other lit­tle boy, he is 12, so he might know what’s go­ing on.

“Where Kye is five, so he knows he has a lump, he knows he has had ra­di­a­tion and in his mind he thinks he is bet­ter.

“And that’s the way we would like to keep it.

“We don’t want him to be think­ing he is fight­ing.”

At the mo­ment Kye has reg­u­lar MRI check-ups, and was for­tu­nate to be part of a trial treat­ment where he re­ceives im­munother­apy in Bris­bane.

The fam­ily now makes reg­u­lar trips to Bris­bane. Scott works on a ros­ter and has taken long-ser­vice leave at half pay.

“He is in a good spot to tol­er­ate it and he has had 50 per cent shrink­age in the tu­mour,” he said.

“We are very lucky to have him where he is at the mo­ment, be­ing a lit­tle kid, run­ning around and jump­ing.

“He is very lov­able, very self­less... he is an un­real lit­tle fella.”

TREAT­MENT

Head­ing abroad for treat­ment may be the fam­ily’s best op­tion.

“There is treat­ment in Mex­ico. It has been in the news quite a bit lately. At this stage I am just not sold on it, the doc­tors don’t seem to re­lease in­for­ma­tion… it seems very hush-hush.

“And it’s very ex­pen­sive. It’s $32,000 a treat­ment. That might have to be (mul­ti­plied) by 14.

“Then they do im­munother­apy on top of it, which is $100,000.

“At this stage we are not opt­ing that way, but we are hop­ing, maybe some­thing in Amer­ica comes up.”

The fam­ily started a GoFundMe Page, which has al­ready sur­passed $20,000.

CHAR­ITY RODEO

Scott was quick to stress how over­whelmed the fam­ily felt with sup­port from their com­mu­nity.

Their neigh­bours, Brad and Erin Cor­rie, of Cor­rie Buck­ing Bulls ap­proached them to do­nate some bulls af­ter hear­ing about Kye’s di­ag­no­sis.

“We have 160 acres here and they ag­ist land for their bulls, just their younger ones,” he said.

“The rodeo all started from that con­ver­sa­tion about them want­ing to help.”

Fel­low lo­cal Ge­orge Busby came on board with a string of buck­ing horses, then a slew of vol­un­teers from as far north as Proser­pine put their hands up to help run the show.

Aptly called the Ride for Kye Fundrais­ing Rodeo, the event will be held on May 12.

“It will be a four B rodeo – so bulls, broncs, bare­back and bar­rels,” he said.

There is no one more keen than Kye to see the rodeo ac­tion.

“He thinks he is rid­ing a bull,” Scott joked.

“It’s called rid­ing for Kye, so he thinks he will be on one.”

Kye and his big brother Cody have a prac­tice drum set up in their back­yard, but Scott was keen to leave the com­pet­ing to the pro­fes­sional cow­boys and cow­girls.

LOOK­ING AHEAD

Kye’s pos­i­tive at­ti­tude fills his par­ents with hope, but Scott ad­mit­ted every day was a strug­gle.

“While he is healthy and happy that makes it a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” he said.

“We are get­ting very anx­ious, the both of us. Be­cause the av­er­age is nine months from di­ag­no­sis.

“And we have just gone on six months so we are get­ting tense. As each day goes by we are wor­ried we are get­ting one step closer.

“The pri­mary goal is to ex­tend that nine months out to about 18 months and then on to three years.

“We are hope­ful.”

Keep up to date with Kye’s story on Face­book through the page “Our brave boy, Kye Funch.”.

To sup­port the fam­ily visit www.gofundme.com/ help-keep-kye-fight­ing.

❝a

Kye is five, so he knows he has

lump, he knows he has had ra­di­a­tion and in his mind he thinks he is bet­ter .... and that’s the way we would like to keep it. We don’t want him to be think­ing he is fight­ing. — Scott Funch

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

A char­ity rodeo has been or­gan­ised for Kye Funch who has been di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mour.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Kye Funch is un­der­go­ing treat­ment for a brain tu­mour, but is in ex­cel­lent spir­its.

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