300 procedures at 3 years old
Max's brave fight not over yetKELSEY FLETCHER
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Three-year-old Max Townshend doesn't yet understand what having leukaemia in 98 per cent of his body means.
But the plucky Palmerston North boy does know what countless trips to Starship children's hospital, having 300 "beads of courage" for each treatment, and losing his hair is like.
Max was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in March after his parents Justine and David became concerned about his health.
Mrs Townshend said Max's doctor warned them his symptoms - an ongoing fever and swollen stomach - matched leukaemia, and blood tests were needed.
But it was only when the doctor made a special visit to the family's house later that night that the diagnosis struck home.
"I knew straight away when I opened the door - to have the doctor come to your house at 10pm, it's not going to be good news," she said. "He came in and explained that Max had leukaemia and we had to take him to the hospital for more tests. We both broke down."
Max was rushed with his parents to Starship children's hospital in Auckland, where a lumbar puncture found leukaemia had invaded 98 per cent of his body.
"It found he had the B-cell, rather than the T-cell, which if you're going to get it, it's the best one to get," she said. "But he was just full of it. It had taken over."
Max was in remission after a month, but his treatments are set to continue until 2016 to prevent any cancerous cells returning.
The family stay at the Ronald McDonald House, which "has been a life saver" in tight times.
Mr Townshend said Max has battled through confinement, losing his hair, and ongoing sickness.
"He was bedridden for ages and couldn't walk. It was awful and scary because you didn't know where the path was leading," he said. "I always worry about what the future holds . . . if it comes back, because you've got that on your mind."
The family has created a GiveaLittle page to help them replace their car and cover expenses, which continue to mount up on their single income.
"Before this happened we had our plan. Ideally, it would have been the two kids going back to kindy, I would have been back at work and we would have been saving towards our house," Mrs Townshend said. "But obviously that's come to a standstill and we've had to come up with a new plan. It's now one income that's not even fulltime when David is helping out, and all the extras that come with Max . . . it's all the hidden expenses."
Mr Townshend has shaved his own head to help Max adjust to losing his curly blonde locks.
"We're just getting on with it because it's what you have to do," he said. "But even now it breaks you down. It's mentally and physically exhausting."
You can donate to the family or find more information here.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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