Brave boys cancer fight
Rural family needs community help to give bright son best shot at life
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
A charity rodeo has been organised for Kye Funch who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Kye Funch is undergoing treatment for a brain tumour, but is in excellent spirits.