Toby battling cancer
Getting through life is about taking one step at a time for Courtney Battensby and her son Toby White.
After being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer in March, Toby has spent his year in and out of hospital.
The 7-year-old has b-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma and is undergoing chemotherapy.
Toby’s life is now poles apart to most other boys his age.
He has left St Patrick’s Catholic School for the year, swapping the classroom for the hospital bed.
Due to the muscle loss in his legs, Toby uses a wheelchair and is learning to walk again.
His hair is slowly beginning to grow back again after it fell out.
Toby is on a high-fat diet, meaning he can eat his favourite food — mince, mac ‘n’ cheese and icecream.
“He still has to eat his veges,” Courtney says.
“Even though he’s got cancer I still have to parent him — he can’t get away with everything.”
Toby also has a 1-year-old brother, Finlay, a happy baby who’s been a huge blessing to Courtney.
Toby and Courtney spend their weeks at Starship Hospital and Waikato Hospital, with Finlay looked after by family.
Courtney tries to make the experience as fun as possible.
“He’s still just a typical 7-year-old boy.”
They keep busy playing games and having visits from a physiotherapist and teacher.
“He gets a bit bored and lonely being away from his friends. There are some days where all he wants to do is lie down on the couch and rest — and that’s okay, too.”
For Courtney, Toby’s cancer has given her a new sense of purpose.
“I could choose to be down and depressed about our situation, but I don’t want that. I want to stay positive and raise my children to enjoy life.
“You’ve got to have a sense of humour and make it fun.”
Courtney is thankful to the Te Awamutu community, St Patrick’s School and her family for their support.
She also thanks Te Awamutu business Collins Flooring Xtra, which recarpeted her home for free with Turkestan — a hypoallergenic carpet that filters unwanted toxins and odours.
Courtney is proud of her son, who has remained brave, strong and positive throughout the experience.
“He sometimes asks me if this whole thing is just a dream.
“The hardest thing is knowing that you can’t take their pain away, you just have to watch them go through it.”
Courtney and Toby don’t know how long the treatment will take — it could be up to three years.
“We just live one week at a time,” Courtney says.
“It’s hard to plan anything at the moment. One thing we know for sure — we want to be home for Christmas.
“We want to get a Christmas tree this year — a real one. I’ve told Toby we can go crazy with the decorations.”