Battlers: My hero, my son

Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
SURVIVOR: Dylan Mark Anselmi.

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Dylan Mark Anselmi was born on May 20, 1990. He is the second eldest of our family of six children.

He was a new entrant at Pukenui school and just five years old when, after a period of vomiting, blurred vision and several doctors visits, he was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma post fossa grade five malignant brain tumour.

Our world fell to bits.and we became the parents of a cancer kid. I was 20 weeks pregnant with our fourth child Logan.

Dylan underwent five hours of brain surgery and then seven weeks of radiation five days a week.

During this time he would go to his 8am appointments and then return to school for the rest of the day. He never had a day off school apart for the ten days after surgery.

Dylan was 'lucky' and survived his ordeal. His cancer treatment has left him with lasting deficits both physical and mental. He has the maths age of 10 and the reading age of 12. His balance is shocking. During his school years he struggled a lot but he never gave up. He took two years to complete NCEA level one and two years to complete NCEA level two without any outside help.

Since the age of 12 he also worked at Te Kuiti New World part time and then full time from the age of 18. We faced heartbreak again when one morning when he was 17 years old Dylan couldn't get out of bed, he was completely weak down his left side and his leg dragged.

A phone call to his onchologist Scott McFarlane, who had taken care of him since he was diagnosed at age five, and Dylan was back in Waikato Hospital and under the CT scan where he was diagnosed with a brain stem lesion.

We were told that this couldn't be tested or operated on as it would paralyse him to touch it. We were told to bring him back in February and if it had grown it meant it was malignant, if not it was benign. The day he was diagnosed was Dylan's 7th Form leaving dinner, so while all his mates were looking forward to university, he was thinking he was going to die. He went to the dinner and asked me if he could have a party with all his mates, which we did. We live on 70 acres in Te Kuiti and had the best party with about 150 people coming and going all day.

Dylan had another scare in 2012 when he lost motor skills to his left side. He underwent another scan and we expected the worst but got the best news. Dylan's brain stem lesion was completely gone and the doctors don't know why. All they said was: "If you believe in Christmas miracles you have one!"

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So this is the short version of my son's life. He is now 22 and has moved to Wellington to take a course in Travel and Tourism and International Flight Attending.

He is so loved in Te Kuiti, he is always happy and smiling and is such an inspiration to so many. I used to be fat and joined the gym with Dylan - now I run marathons. Dylan's balance is too bad to run a marathon yet he thinks himself the luckiest guy in the world. So that is my son. 

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