It’s the one thing in life that’s truly worth fighting for. No matter what. Even when the doctors look you in the eye and say: “I’m sorry. There’s nothing more we can do for your son.”
Becky and Marcus Stuart knew the odds. They’d known them for months.
As Becky recalls...
“When he was diagnosed, they told us Will had a 78% chance of survival. That would drop to 30% if he had a relapse, and 12% on a second. If you relapse a third time, the chances of survival are zero. When Will relapsed the third time, they told us we had a choice... focus on his quality of life and see him out. Or do another fight. We chose to fight.”
Only one thing stood in the way – Melbourne was thousands of kilometres from home. After four years of fighting, the Stuarts simply didn’t have
the means to pay for suitable accommodation.
The nightmare for Will and his parents came out of nowhere, without any warning signs. Will’s dad, Marcus, recalls the shock ...
“Once you get told your son has leukaemia, your world comes tumbling down. You’re in absolute shock. You don’t know how to deal with the situation. Becky stayed with Will in the hospital. I got home and couldn’t stop wailing. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. I just wailed at the top of my lungs and couldn’t stop until I fell asleep. That’s the moment you realize your heart’s broken.”
The Stuarts are fighters though, and they quickly regrouped and threw all their effort into doing whatever it might take to help their little boy
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a similar situation yourself. Maybe you or a loved one has battled cancer. If so, you’ll understand the toll it takes on everyone involved in the fight.
The harsh statistics were terrifying. Nothing could have prepared them for what was coming.
Over the next four years Will endured gruelling treatments that would tear the heart out of what a childhood should be about...blood transfusions, intensive chemotherapy, full body radiation, focused radiation on his testicles, and ultimately unsuccessful bone marrow transplants. And an experimental treatment called CAR-T, so new, Will was one of the first patients in Australia to receive it.
He took it all in his stride though. And, dressed up in one of his superhero costumes, he fought every step of the way.
Today, I want to ask you to fight with us too. Please donate today to fight for families like Will’s.
You see, Will had his superhero costumes to help him fight his battle, but mums and dads like Becky and Marcus, they need superhero supporters like you to get them through.
Becky says the hardest part of their journey was while they were waiting for Will to be approved to take part in the CAR-T trial. After two bone marrow transplants – both of which failed – they knew they were out of options. As Becky recalls...
“The waiting took a massive toll on us, three months of just waiting and watching him decline and not knowing if we’d get on the trial. It was really hard, because we were regularly hearing about other children who’d run out of time.”
Then finally, right before Christmas last year, the phone rang with the news they’d been waiting for. It was all systems go...
“They said yes, you’re in, and we literally had about 12 hours to get on a plane and get to Melbourne.” When the family had to scramble to Melbourne, any chance they had of a ‘normal’ Christmas at home was dashed. Plans were cancelled, Christmas presents were left under the tree.
That’s where your kindness and generosity came in. Thanks to you, and other wonderful Fight Cancer Foundation supporters like you, the Stuarts could stay at Fight Cancer Foundation’s accommodation centre during Will’s lifesaving treatment...and importantly, stay together at Christmas.
What an amazing thing you can do for another family like Will’s this Christmas by donating today.
Generous donations like yours to Fight Cancer Foundation not only provided the Stuarts with safe, stable accommodation, they allowed them to spend Christmas together as a family.
Whilst many of us may take being together on Christmas day for granted, it’s a huge victory for a family going through the pain of cancer, thousands of kilometres from home. The sheer cost of Will’s fight has had a huge impact on the family’s income. Becky had to stop work – she’s spent over a year in hospital with Will since he was first diagnosed in 2015. And that’s even before bills come into the picture. As Marcus said of their four year battle ...
“It’s been financially crippling. We’ll never own a house. It’s mostly just my income and I’ve lost five years of sick leave too. We literally lived week-by-week, on a teacher’s salary.”
“Fight Cancer Foundation and their supporters gave us the ability to stay together – right where we needed to be – something we couldn’t have otherwise done. I would have had to have flown back home - and leaving them at such a crucial point would have been just too horrendous.”
I can’t tell you just how important this is to families like Marcus and Becky’s. Because one of the often unspoken tragedies of childhood illnesses like Will’s is the impact on parents and wider family.
Some families have to sell or re-mortgage their homes. Some go bankrupt altogether. Often, couples split up because the pressures are so, so intense.
Many couples that stay together still have to split their lives because of treatment needs. If a child needs a bone marrow transplant, or CAR-T, they have to be in Melbourne. So frequently, one parent stays with the child, and one stays at home to look after the other children, and to keep working and earning. This can be incredibly hard when there are thousands of kilometres and different time zones in between them.
When it comes to critical care like CART-T or bone marrow transplants, many doctors will tell you it’s not good from a medical perspective either. Patients have the best chance of recovery surrounded by their loved ones, with everyone together in comfortable and stable environment.
That’s exactly what families get at Fight Cancer Foundation’s accommodation center.