Our littlest ambassador, Chase was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor in March 2018 at just four years old.
At a time when he should have been undertaking his school readiness program and playing soccer with his friends Chase was undergoing treatment.
Fortunately Chase was able to kick start his learning through Fight Cancer Foundation’s education support program, Back on Track, at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
“Initially I wasn’t even thinking about kindergarten, because once Chase got diagnosed all those things that you look forward to in the future, you really forget about. You are just trying to get through each day or each week,” said Kelly, Chase’s mum.
Chase received four weeks of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and then another 12 cycles of chemotherapy as an outpatient. This meant Chase would go into hospital for treatment, sometimes this could take up to six hours before he was able to return home with his mum.
“Going through the treatment, trying to keep a four year old at that stage occupied is quite hard.”
During these many long hours, the team from the Back on Track program would come and sit with Chase and go through different learning activities.
Kelly explains, “They would do kindergarten activities with Chase. Getting him ready for the little things he would be learning in kindergarten, he would be doing his letter recognition and numbers. I loved watching him when he started to learn to do different stuff.”
After completing treatment in March 2019, Chase has since settled into kinder after missing the first term. While he is not at the same level as his peers just yet the Back on Track team are working with Chase, Kelly and his kindergarten teacher to bring him up to speed.
“The Back on Track team is helping him more so now than what they had to initially when he did some of the work with them at the hospital.”
Funded through Footy Colours Day, the Back on Track program works to ensure children like Chase can reach their full education potential, and are not educationally disadvantaged by their illness.
Kelly highlights the importance of programs like Back on Track for Chase and other children like him.
“I don’t want him, for his life, forever having to try to catch up because of what he has been through.”
Kelly continues, “He sees kids that can write more words together than what he can and that’s what he wants and he’s already had so long of feeling not the same - without hair or without being able to run and with a central line coming from his body - it’s just important for him and other kids to feel normal again and amongst their peers not separate to their peers.”
Chase, who Kelly describes as being a happy, energetic and intelligent little boy, is determined to catch up to his peers.
“Chase is a determined character and that’s what I think helped him through the last 12 months. He had positivity about him, and he is still like that. If he feels good he makes the most of feeling good and he won’t give up.”
“He is only in kindergarten and this is available. This program for teenagers that are going through high school and going through some of those crucial years in school is just so important.”
Working through some of the areas that Chase needs to catch up on, Kelly is confident that with the support of programs like Back on Track, Chase and other children living with cancer can resume their lives as quickly as possible.
“All of the kids that have had to go through this, they have already had to focus a lot of their energy on doing a lot of hard yards just to get through the treatment and by helping them with their education, it helps them with their future so everything isn’t going to continue to be a battle or a constant effort. It was an effort just to get through each cycle of chemotherapy and then these kids come out of that and they’re behind in their schooling and its playing catch up in schooling where at least by having these programs available it just makes it a bit easier for them to get back to normal life and be there amongst their peers.”
According to Kelly, Chase already has a good attitude to learning and is particularly fond of math. He is also a huge fan of The Flash - because he can run fast!
Help children like Chase continue their learning while receiving treatment for cancer by hosting a Footy Colours Day at your school, workplace group or club this September.