Joshua was such a healthy little boy since birth. Shortly before he was diagnosed with Pineoblastoma in 2015, he cycled 4-5 km on his bike while I was running. He started to complain about headaches. The GP's could not find anything wrong. However, 3 weeks later, after several visits to different doctors, we finally ended up taking him to PMH emergency where a lovely ER doctor decided to do a CT scan. We sensed something was wrong after being held up in the CT Scan room and when they pulled chairs closer to Joshua's bed.
Joshua's headaches were caused by the build up of Cerebrospinal Fluid (Hydrocephalus) due to the brain tumour filling the large ventricle in the middle of his brain. He received a VP shunt to assist in the drainage of fluid. The surgeons decided that they could not wait for the results from the biopsy to return and gave us very short notice that they felt the need to operate and dissect as much of the tumour as they can. They shared the risks associated with this major brain surgery withus 1) he could suffer a major stroke and/or bleed to death 2) have disabilities 3) have memory loss amongst other things. This was probably the hardest decision of our lives, but we agreed to have the surgery done.
Every minute during the surgery felt like a year. We found ourselves on a bench in a park opposite a play park and I recall us wondering whether Joshua would be able to play there one day or not. We could not breath...we could not pray... After 6 hours the surgeons shared with us that they managed to remove more than 90% of the tumour - medically speaking a very successful procedure.
There was an unknown couple in the friendship room who waited for their son to return from surgery. They immediately came to comfort us and started praying. The power of prayer was felt throughout this life changing situation. People from all over the world prayed and stood by us, and still are to this very day.
After extensive laboratory testing and samples sent off to Europe to confirm, results confirmed it was one of the rarest and most malignant brain tumours, a grade 4 Pineoblastoma. Little is known about this tumour with a prognosis of between 50-60%.
Dr Nick and his team gave it their all to fight this disease. Joshua received 30 days of radiation and 5 cycles of intense chemotherapy. It was hard times...seeing him sick and having to hold him down to get needles stuck into him....BUT God gave us strength and showed us unlimited grace. Grace in the form that Joshua smiled every day. That he was not as sick as the other little children in the same ward. That he talked about Jesus and sang worship songs to God. Our boy showed us what God's love was all about. He showed us how to persist and not to give up. He went to school in between chemo sessions and he caught up on all the lost school work. He showed us how to push through hopeless situations, how to transform pain into a hug or a smile. What a miracle!
Around the 10th of May this year, Joshua had another routine MRI scan done. We were devastated when the oncologist called a meeting to share the heartbreaking news that the cancer has returned after Joshua had been in remission for 17 months and that the disease is now terminal. This was a miracle boy, how could it be? This is our only child. This boy suffered enough we felt and kept on saying to each other!
However, there was an unknown peace throughout the meeting. We cried, we laughed and we cried even more...however, our hearts remained calm. Both of us knew immediately that we needed to get ready for this storm. Even though we wanted God to answer all those difficult questions, we found ourselves being drawn closer to Him every time we cried. We are certain that God is still crying with us.
We want the world to see all the love and all the grace that God showed us through Joshua. We want Christians and non-Christians to feel God's peace and to see the beauty that He created. We want everyone to pray for God's will be done, and not our will be done. Yes, our hearts are filled with hope that he will somehow survive this terminal illness....but we are not praying specifically for healing. No, we are praying for our Heavenly Father's will be done, whatever that might be.
Psalm 121:1-2 I look up to the mountains. Does my strength come from these mountains? No. My strength comes from God who made heaven and earth and the mountains. Joshua's calling? Two words, to bring us LOVE and GRACE. It is hard to even imagine life without him, but this child belongs to God and he has been borrowed to us Oscar and Carien (Joshua's Parents)
Iain was a normal 31 year old, Aussie bloke who loved his family, drove trucks for work and never complained about anything.
It was the 26th of October 2014, the day of our sons 3rd Birthday party, everything was ready, we were all set for his big day. Iain was already awake that morning sitting on the couch when my son and I walked through to the family room, we were talking about the exciting day ahead when within a instant Iain dropped and started to slide off the couch shaking uncontrollably, me 6 months pregnant with our second child just froze, then the panic set in.. I screamed for Iains mum who lucky for us was visiting from NSW and is a nurse, we called a ambulance who took us to hospital where they carried out a CT scan, this is where our world changed. He has a Brain Tumour.
All I remember when looking at his first MRI scan was seeing the 6cm White fuzzy circle taking up the left part of his brain, not understanding the complexity of what all of this meant but being overcome with emotion, crying in My mother in laws arms while Iain held us both and told us over and over that it's going to be ok.
From there Iain was the positive light in dark days of the unknown, I watched the man I want to spend my life with, the father of my boys fight, he fought his demons, he fought to regain his speech & memory after a 85% resection of his grade 3 brain tumour, he endured 30 days straight of radiotherapy, which in the middle of our second son was born. He needed high doses of steroids which strained his body to the point he now suffers Avascular Necrosis and then had 12 long rounds of Chemotherapy. I watched him lose himself, his job, his friends and all that made him, him.
1 year passed, He was on watch and wait and his MRIs were stable and we were adjusting to our new normal. It was January this year where there was a change on his scan, there were 2 more tumours, Instantly we were thrown back into the world we had fought so hard to come out from. His doctors wanted to wait 2 months and see what the tumours do, we couldn't wait and refused. We flew to Sydney to meet the AMAZING Dr Charlie Teo and with the wonderful support of Iains mother and our kind friend who started a go fund page we were able to have DR Teo operate, he didn't just remove the 2 new tumours he also went in and got the left over 15% of tumour iains original neurosurgeon wouldn't touch. Today, Iain is battered and bruised but he fought the hard fight and is now brain tumour free! They can't say for how long but for now we can live and our boys have their dad. Brain Cancer doesn't just effect someone's health, it effects there lively hood it takes every part of your life away and makes you fight. We need that almighty cure, for those who fought hard, those who are still fighting and sadly for the ones that are still yet to come.