Take the feeding tube away and a slight limp is the only hint that three-year-old Eddie Halstead-Stevens is suffering from a life-threatening disease.
He is smart, chatty, cheeky - and his family has just been told there is no further treatment available in New Zealand to help their son survive the aggressive cancer that has returned to his body.
In July last year, Eddie was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, after a tumour was found attached to one of his kidneys.
He was given a 30 to 40 per cent chance of survival.
Since then, the Woodend toddler has undergone numerous treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumour and a kidney, high-dose chemotherapy, radiation and immuno therapy - which he had an adverse reaction to.
After responding well to earlier treatments, Eddie started limping before Christmas, and two weeks ago he could not even walk.
After blood tests, physio and an MRI, the cancer was found again in his right femur.
The family was told by Christchurch Hospital to take Eddie home for palliative care.
"He's got so much energy.
"It's just so hard to believe, " said mum Roxana Halstead, who is now 35 weeks pregnant with the couple's second child.
Determined not to give up, the family looked into a high-dose radiation therapy offered in Australia, which targets neuroblastoma that has recurred. Eddie was confirmed as a viable candidate yesterday.
Dad Gary Stevens said he and Eddie hope to travel to Australia in six weeks.
"They don't see what a ball of life he is, " Stevens said.
"We realise it's not going to be a miracle cure, but it's further treatment he's going to have, " Halstead said.
The treatment alone could cost $10,000, while travel, accommodation costs and time off work for Gary would need to be covered for up to two weeks.
The family were also dealt a further blow this week when their hot water stopped working and they discovered leaks in their Woodend house.
"Its very stressful on top of everything else. We just dont need this."
A page has been set up at: facebook.com/eddiescrusade, and donations can be made via: givealittle.co.nz/cause/eddiescrusade.
- The Press
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