How do you tell your little boy that he has cancer?
That was the challenge Luca’s parents, Anna and Rocco, had to face. At the time Luca was a typical six-year-old boy who loved playing with his friends, going to school and playing football.
As with most diagnoses of cancer, Luca’s came as a complete shock to his parents. It all started when Luca complained of a sore leg. Anna noticed that Luca had begun to limp and promptly took him to the doctor.
“The GP put it down to growing pains, and said it was normal for a boy of his age,” Anna recalls. However not only did the pain continue, it got worse to the point where Luca could no longer walk. “We took him to the Royal Children’s Hospital and after scans; Luca was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer called osteosarcoma.”
Every parent’s worst fear now became a reality for Anna and Rocco.
When Luca was diagnosed, he was in Grade 1 and doing well at school. Treatment for his cancer meant he had to miss out on school and socialising with his school friends - a crucial element in the development of any young boy.
After 12 harrowing rounds of chemotherapy, Anna and Rocco were told that the only way to save their son’s life was to amputate his leg.
“I held out hope that an amputation would be the last resort,” Luca’s mum, Anna says. “Then I felt guilty that he went through 12 rounds of gruelling chemo without any success.”
“Luca was only told of his amputation a week before the surgery as we wanted him to be as positive and strong-minded throughout his battle. He has never once complained…”
Anna adds “He cried a little and then said,"if I do this will I get better?”
During treatment and recovery, Luca was involved in Fight Cancer Foundation’s education support program. The program enabled him to maintain his education and stay connected with his school and school friends. This provided Luca a much-needed distraction, as life in hospital can be a challenge in itself especially for a six-year-old boy.
“He was able to focus on something other than what treatment he was receiving or what drugs were being pumped into him,” says Anna.
Luca took part in both one-on-one and group learning sessions ensuring he remained at the same educational level as his peers. As Anna explains, the sessions also gave Luca an opportunity to interact with adults that weren’t his doctors or parents, and Anna much-needed breaks.
“It gave me time to step out of the room and just have a bit of me time. To give him the chance to be one-on-one with someone else as I was always there with him…It gave him a break from his routine and also a break from me.”
Today, Luca is back at school and thriving. After his many months of treatment and recovery, Luca was able to smoothly transition back to school and reconnect with his school friends.
Luca was recently fitted with a new prosthetic leg, and according to Anna “he has never looked back! He continues to give everything his all.”
While Luca’s leg may be a constant reminder of his fight against cancer, this brave little boy won’t let anything hold him back.
With your support, our education program can continue to give children the confidence they need to succeed in life. Please donate a vital gift to give the gift of education to support children like Luca this Christmas.