Mother amazed at support
Cooper Huizinga might spend more time in hospital than day care, but he is still smiling.
The Nelson 20-month-old was diagnosed with the rare disease Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) earlier this year after his mum, Jordan, became convinced he had more than an ear infection.
The cancer-like disease occurs when the body produces too many of a particular white blood cell. Although it is not cancer, it is treated in a similar way, with Cooper having to undergo MRIs and chemotherapy.
So far he has had four portacaths put in because they keep becoming infected. The newest one was put in last week when he and Ms Huizinga were in Christchurch for another MRI scan.
"The MRI shows improvements; it's still there, but the chemo is working," Ms Huizinga said.
Cooper was doing well too.
"It still doesn't faze him. He's still smiling and happy, that's all that matters."
He now has almost 300 beads of courage from all his treatments.
The doctors had taken out the tube that Ms Huizinga had been using to feed Cooper, who had now moved back to eating foods himself. It was a struggle though, because he wasn't chewing like a normal one-and-a-half-year-old, she said.
"He likes Weet-Bix and yoghurt and mashed bananas, but he's not that good at chewing stuff."
After the Nelson Mail first wrote about Cooper, Ms Huizinga was blown away by the support and good wishes she received.
She still found it amazing that people recognised them on the street, and was incredibly thankful to everyone who had donated and supported them.
"These people you've never met before say [some wonderful things].
"It's the little things that help."
Although Cooper's immunity was not so low that he couldn't leave the house, putting him in daycare would be risky. Because of this, Ms Huizinga has been unable to find work.
She also said it was difficult to say she was reliable because at any moment she might need to fly to Christchurch for treatments with her son.
If treatment continued going well, Cooper should get the all- clear next June, Ms Huizinga said. She hoped that he would then be able to go to daycare and do all those "normal" kid things.
Her other son, Ashton, had been coping well with everything too, she said. "He's a good big brother.
The hardest thing had been when Cooper had his PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) in because it meant he couldn't get too wet or dirty.
"We couldn't just go to the beach, or let him jump in puddles. All those things parents take for granted, I used to take them for granted, but now I have to think about all these things."
- © Fairfax NZ News