July 2019 started as any other month. Lukas was growing up a happy and a super cheeky three year old. He was going to preschool and enjoyed playing with all his friends.
He would frequent his nanny and poppy’s house almost daily and he would call his Aunty Neil and demand ‘pick me up, my come to your house for dinner’ to be able to play with his cousins James and Hamish. Lukas would sleep over at his poppy’s house in his car bed and travel on big planes to see Nanny Lisa in Queensland.
His mum, Madison, had just graduated from a Bachelor of Midwifery degree and commenced her career devoting time, love and patience to those who sought her expertise and compassion. His dad, Mitchell, was climbing his way up the ladder in the aviation industry which he thoroughly enjoys.
'No matter what Maddy and Mitch pursue in life, nothing would ever come close to their immense love of their Lukas. They have a close knit family, linked strongly by blood to those around them, and those who were friends but have became family.' Lukas' Aunty Neil
'There were no preceding signs or symptoms that we could establish as concerning. Initially, mild abdominal pain and low grade fevers which were disregarded by doctors as a simple childhood viral infection. Unbeknownst to us all at this time, a 3cm x 2.5cm tumour was growing on Lukas’ right adrenal gland.' Lukas' Aunty Neil
The mass on his adrenal gland was found after Lukas became that unwell that his temperatures were uncontrollable and he was unable to walk. He was in the emergency department in absolute agony. The family felt helpless and then late on a Friday afternoon, they were given the diagnosis - their boy had neuroblastoma. They were reassured that the tumour was small and it had been caught early (by accident in fact). There was strong belief Lukas did in fact have a viral infection.
Only seven days had passed between Lukas becoming unwell to his diagnosis.
'We were left speechless at first, I remember my first initial thought was I want to get up, take Lukas and just run away from this hospital cause it couldn’t be true, then realisation hit and suddenly I had of a lot of questions that needed to be answered. It felt in that moment that our world had been flipped upside down.' Lukas' mum Madison
Lukas was discharged that weekend. The entire family and network of friends were exhausted and unsettled by the thought of the unknown having had very little information provided. Lukas was referred to the Children’s Hospital at Randwick, where he would be immediately admitted for fever monitoring and management and to undergo further testing and staging.
'After what seemed to take forever but realistically was done so quickly, Lukas underwent a bone marrow biopsy, MIBG scan (nuclear medicine scan) and a CT (computerised tomography scan) of his chest, abdomen and pelvis. Whilst there was no other signs of solid organ tumours except the monster on his right adrenal gland, the bone marrow biopsy identified that Lukas was classified as Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. How could this be? We were told we caught it early? We were told it was small? We were told it was found by accident?' Lukas' Aunty Neil
Lukas had checks prior to beginning chemotherapy. The family were in contact with the superb clinicians at Randwick who continue to guide and support them. Defined as 'High Risk Neuroblastoma', Lukas started a Rapid COJEC protocol nearly immediately. Twenty four hours after his first chemotherapy, Lukas' fever had broken and he was starting to walk again.
After forty days, his medical team evaluated how the protocol was working for Lukas. He underwent further scans and a bone marrow biopsy to see if there had been an improvement. Half way through his induction, there was no trace of neuroblastoma in his bone marrow aspirate and only very small amounts in his trephine (bone).
'Lukas is so brave and strong. He has completed his induction chemotherapy, undergone surgery to remove the tumor, completed his bone marrow transplant and about to commence immunotherapy.
Last week we were told he's cancer free. What an extraordinary effort from not only Lukas but him mum and dad to get to this point. A real superhero. Our hero. Our Lukas.' Lukas' Aunty Neil
'Research is so important for any childhood cancer and especially neuroblastoma. With more research we hope to bring up our survival rates and have less harsher treatments and less invasive diagnosis testing.' Lukas' mum Madison
A team of supporters is gathering under the banner ‘Love for Lukas’ for this year's Neuroblastoma 2020 on Sunday 31 May.
You can add your well wishes to the Love for Lukas team using the button below.
Please take a moment to stand with them and support their hope for a cure today.