One in five children in Western Australia has a respiratory disease. It is the leading cause of hospitalisation for children…
Only a couple of weeks after Lil’ Beau was born his dad, Beau, noticed a small lump on his foot, near his toes.
Beau and Melissa (mum) took Lil’ Beau to Peel Hospital where doctors thought the lump was some sort of insect bite. The family were sent home the next day; however the lump grew significantly overnight so Beau and Melissa returned to their GP.
The GP organised an x-ray and ultrasound. As soon as he received Lil’ Beau’s results, the GP referred the family directly to Princess Margaret Hospital.
The last thing on our minds was that our little boy had cancer.
“Doctors at PMH did a biopsy on Lil’ Beau’s foot and sat us down to explain the results. We were told that as well as having a cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma in his foot, he had a spot on his lungs. The date of Lil’s Beau’s diagnosis is burnt into my mind – 30 December 2010,” explains Melissa.
“Taking Lil’ Beau in for chemotherapy absolutely broke our hearts. We never imagined that our baby boy would have to go through all this pain in the first couple of months of his life. We were living in Mandurah at the time, so it was extra hard being away from our two older children Tyson and Shante while Lil’ Beau was in PMH.
“When doctors discussed amputation with us, we were completely focused on Lil’ Beau’s chance of survival. We agreed to remove the lower part of his left leg to ensure as close to a 100% chance of survival as possible. The alternative was to watch the cancer take over him completely.
“As it got closer we were scared and nervous about going through with the operation. But we had complete trust that the doctors would be able to get our son through this horrible ordeal and help him move towards living a healthy life.
The operation went well and Lil’ Beau was fitted for a prosthetic leg to enable him to keep moving and playing with his siblings.
“28 March 2012, is another date I will always remember. It was when Lil’ Beau was given the all clear. I can’t put into words the emotions we felt. As well as being relieved and thankful for all PMH had done for our boy, we were happy that we could finally move forward and get back to living life outside of the hospital walls.
“We had a wonderful two years living a normal life and enjoying being together as a family with Tyson and Shante and our youngest, Tahlia, who was born in May 2013. Then in March 2014, our world fell apart again when Lil’ Beau’s doctors told us he had relapsed,” Melissa said.
Doctors couldn’t pin point exactly what the problem was at first as Lil’ Beau’s bone marrow was full of disease. It was a couple of long, stressful weeks while the family waited for an answer. Initially doctors thought Lil’ Beau had leukaemia, but it turned out that he had a reoccurrence of rhabdomyosarcoma.
“Once Lil’ Beau’s doctors knew the exact diagnosis, they gave him a very low chance of survival. We once again had to give permission for amputation. This time they amputated above Lil’ Beau’s knee to increase his chance of beating the cancer a second time,” explains Melissa.
“As we had already been through chemotherapy, we were familiar with the procedures and day to day lifestyle of being parents of a cancer patient. It was still really hard coming to terms with the fact that we had to endure it all over again. It was difficult to keep thinking positively, even on our good days,” explains Melissa.
“Lil’ Beau was amazing. Throughout his treatment he was always happy. It was extremely rare for him not to have a smile on his face.
“Now we refer to PMH as Lil’ Beau’s hospital. He has spent most of his life at the hospital and always searches for ‘his’ nurses when we visit.
“Lil’ Beau is doing really well. He super active and doesn’t let anything stop him from doing what he loves, which is pretty much all sports. He particularly loves football and is excited to be starting tee-ball again.
“We are so thankful to the wonderful team at PMH who care for Lil’ Beau. They have saved our boy’s life twice. This same team will move to Perth Children’s Hospital when it opens and will keep caring for children like Lil’ Beau. So we jumped at the chance to help in some way by becoming Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation Ambassadors for the John Hughes Big Walk. The whole family is really looking forward to doing the walk this November with Lil’ Beau leading us all the way.”
Join Lil’ Beau at the John Hughes Big Walk on Sunday 13 November. Register now.