When he was born, Fred had fibrous marks on his thigh, which were diagnosed as benign. But over time the marks changed, and his mother Kate pushed for further testing. It seemed no one, not even the GP, wanted to believe this little baby could have cancer.
It was a long journey to figure out what the markings were: infantile fibrosarcoma, an extremely rare type of cancer, with only about 100 cases diagnosed world-wide. Fred started treatment at 7 months of age, undergoing eight 21-day cycles of chemotherapy, as well as surgery on the tumour.
During the 18 months of treatment, he and his mother lived in Sydney, separated from Fred’s father and older brother who needed to remain in Australia’s Northern Territory, a very distant 2785 km away.
“He’s running around now and acting like a toddler,” shares Kate. “As frustrating as ‘the terrible two’s’ are, it makes me happy. I didn’t like seeing him sick. There were so many procedures and so many toxic chemicals to fight the cancer. It’s awful to see your son poisoned like that, but it’s the only way anyone had to help him.”
“You need to take every little positive thought, and be their advocate in every way, from the nutrition you put into them, to giving them optimum rest and the best possible conditions. I think that’s a big part of what gets you through, because you often think, ‘what can I do in all of this?’ I can’t cure cancer, but I can do my best to make sure he has the best chance at fighting it.”
Fred has just celebrated his third birthday: a magical morning of pirate ships, knights in shining armour, his own Lego set and a rocket ship. “This was the first birthday celebration we’ve seen him with gorgeous curly hair and not feeling sick from chemo side effects,” says Kate.
“You look at your child and take incredible strength from them …because if they can go through it, then you can get through it.”