Meet Lucas, this year’s patient ambassador for the Bob ‘Tug’ Wilson’s Walk for Kids with Cancer. At just 15 year-old, the inspiring young man is tackling his biggest challenge yet - childhood cancer.
‘In hindsight, we just didn’t see the signs. I remember sitting at footy training one afternoon and Lucas kept falling behind. He is always leading the pack. I thought; what’s going on with this kid: did he eat too many chips and chocolates over Christmas?’”
At the turn of the New Year, Rebecca and her husband Karam never imagined 2021 would see months of tests, countless hospital trips and several rounds of chemotherapy. But on Tuesday 9 February 2021, the families’ roller-coaster journey began when the school’s assistant principal noticed his pale skin and change in behaviour too.
By late that night, blood tests confirmed the devastating news - Lucas has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL)…
“At 9.22 pm that night I’d received the phone call and Lucas was coming downstairs to give us a kiss goodnight, as he does every night. I took the phone call and just felt instantly woozy. I fainted and Lucas caught me,” shares Karam.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is a type of cancer where the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It is the most common form of childhood leukaemia but thanks to ground-breaking research and advances in medical treatment, survival rates have risen to 80%.
At the start, Rebecca and Karam were terrified. “Straight away you think the worst when you hear the word ‘cancer’, but we just had to stay strong for Lucas. Trying to grapple with the news was hard, especially for his little brother Jacob. We just couldn’t believe our healthy and fit boy could be so sick,” says Rebecca.
Days later, Lucas immediately began his first round of chemotherapy and steroids at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead to give him the best chance of survival. Treatment has continued weekly through a mix of sessions at the Hospital’s Cancer Centre for Children and at home by visiting nurses.
For Lucas’ devoted parents, managing his strict schedule of treatments has become their biggest priority and Rebecca’s full-time job. Despite the challenges of managing life’s everyday responsibilities and Jacob’s normal routine, the family remain optimistic about their journey over the next two years.
“It’s very overwhelming to start with because your whole world is turned upside down,” says Rebecca. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you have to stay positive. Lucas has coped really well, despite the aches, tiredness and nausea the medications cause.”
What has helped during the toughest of times is his expert team, led by Dr Caroline Bateman at Westmead. “They’re all fantastic,” says Rebecca. “They are all so supportive and any question is explained 100%. You know exactly where you’re going with it. They pretty much hold your hand the whole way through it.”
Above all, it’s Lucas who has kept them going through what this exceptionally family-oriented teenager describes to his parents as “our diagnosis”.
“We are super blessed with Lucas,” Karam says. “Anyone who knows him knows he always puts others first. When his mum found out he was sick, she was crying, and the first thing Lucas said was ‘I’m sorry I’ve got leukaemia mum. I don’t want to worry you or the grandparents’.
Rebecca explains: “He’s in a good place right now and I think mentally it helps that he has got lots of support too.”
Today, Rebecca and Karam are sharing Lucas’ story in hopes it will inspire others to sign up to Bob ‘Tug’ Wilson’s Walk for Kids with Cancer. On Sunday 23 May, Team Lucas will be walking 13 km to help give back to their home away from home- the Cancer Centre for Children.
To walk beside Team Lucas and support him through his ‘minor setback for a major comeback,’ register today. Together, we can help provide the best possible treatments and therapies for kids like Lucas, facing childhood cancer.
Visit walkforkidscancer.org.au to learn more.