Fam­ily hope for a cure

Stratford Press - - News -

by EMMA RUS­SELL NZ Her­ald

To­day a Taranaki fam­ily will move to the US in one last hope to save their 2-year-old son.

Corey Keel­ing — a boy whose mother de­scribes him as never without his gum­boots and full of en­ergy — was di­ag­nosed with an ag­gres­sive stage four neu­rob­las­toma cancer ear­lier this year.

Af­ter six rounds of che­mother­apy and two high-risk surg­eries, Corey’s only chance of sur­vival is to travel to New York in hope of ur­gently be­ing put on a pos­si­bly life­sav­ing clin­i­cal trial.

Hundreds of New Zealan­ders have been get­ting be­hind his story, with more than $26,000 raised so far on the fam­ily’s Givealit­tle page.

His par­ents, dairy farm­ers Hay­den and Aly Keel­ing, say they will do what­ever it takes to save their boy.

“You don’t re­alise how much fight you have un­til you are faced with some­thing like this.

“I guess that parental in­stinct kicks in.

“I had this per­fect child, our whole lives were all planned out and within just a few mo­ments it was pulled away from me,” Aly told the Her­ald in tears.

Corey was rushed up to Auck­land’s Star­ship Hospi­tal in March af­ter a hard lump was dis­cov­ered on his tummy.

A 12cm mass was found in his ab­domen and the fol­low­ing day he started che­mother­apy.

Aly, a 33-year-old trea­sury an­a­lyst, said the worst part was his tu­mour had in­vaded one of his ma­jor ar­ter­ies — known as the in­fe­rior vena cava — and had grown into the right atrium of his heart.

“The tu­mour was so close to en­ter­ing one of his ven­tri­cles and if that hap­pened he would have died.”

In June, af­ter his fifth round of che­mother­apy, Corey un­der­went surgery that suc­cess­fully re­moved over 90 per cent of the tu­mour in his ab­domen.

“We were so thrilled with the progress he had made. For the first time we were able to take Corey home.

“And in that time he turned two and he was run­ning around the farm like a nor­mal kid. He was driv­ing the tractor with his dad and vis­it­ing the cows which he loves — things seemed to be get­ting back on track.”

Ear­lier this month the fam­ily re­ceived a call in­form­ing them of Corey’s lat­est MRI scan that showed a spot of cancer in his brain. On Septem­ber 11, Corey had his sec­ond round of surgery to re­move the mass in his brain.

“We are 99 per cent that mass has been re­moved but he now has what’s called a Cen­tral Ner­vous Sys­tem (CNS) Re­lapse,” Aly said.

There were only two hos­pi­tals in the world able to treat CNS — one in Barcelona and other in New York at Memo­rial Sloan Ket­ter­ing Cancer Cen­ter Hospi­tal.

As Aly Keel­ing was born in Amer­ica and Corey has dual cit­i­zen­ship there, the fam­ily plan to move New York in the hope of get­ting on the trial.

“We have been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the on­col­o­gists over there but there is a lot that is still up in the air at the mo­ment.”

The fam­ily are due to fly out from Auck­land air­port to­day.

PHOTO / DEAN PUR­CELL

Corey Keel­ing (2) doesn’t go any­where without his red band gum­boots.

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