Article from 2020/2021 Impact of Giving Annual Report
Although Tate’s life was cut short by a rare and aggressive cancer, his legacy lives on through the Tate Scarce Fund. Established by his parents Jo and Dean Scarce and their sons Riley and Cadyn, the aim is to raise funds for research into rare childhood cancers.
“Tate was the youngest of our three boys. He was a very easy going child who was caring and very social. Although he wasn’t the competitive type, he enjoyed being involved in footy, basketball and swimming. He also loved being at our family’s holiday cabin in Echuca, where he’d go knee boarding out on the river,” reflected his mum Jo.
In 2013, nine year old Tate developed tonsillitis. Despite weeks of rest and antibiotics, it wasn’t getting better. When Tate started complaining of pains in his stomach as well, Jo took him straight back to the doctor.
“Our GP felt around his stomach and there was something that shouldn’t be there. He referred us to get an ultrasound the next morning. After the scan, they told us we needed to go straight to the RCH. It all happened so quickly, we didn’t know what was going on,” said Jo.
Tate was admitted to the RCH over the weekend so the clinicians could conduct further tests, but it wasn’t until Monday that oncologists came to give Jo and Dean the devastating news. Tate was diagnosed with an incredibly rare cancer called desmoplastic small cell round tumours (DSCRT), meaning tumours were growing in the tissue of his abdomen and pelvic area. It had never been seen before at the RCH, and Tate was only the fifth child in Australia to ever be diagnosed with this form of cancer.
“I remember talking to Tate’s oncologist Dr Jordan Hansford, and he explained that there was a very low survival percentage for this kind of cancer, but it wasn’t zero. I said, ‘why can’t my son be that surviving percentage?’ With that in mind we tried to stay as positive as possible throughout his treatment. We didn’t tell anyone Tate’s prognosis was bad because we didn’t want people treating him like he was dying before he’d even started his battle,” said Jo.
As Tate’s cancer was so uncommon and there was no proven way of fighting it, the RCH teams utilised the latest in cancer treatment to help support him, including enrolling him in specialised clinical trials combined with a variety of treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation. He even had a new type of chemotherapy surgery, the first of its kind performed at the hospital, which helped to clear spots of cancer on the lining of his abdomen.
“Once Tate recovered from the operation, he was in a good place for 12 months, which meant we were able to take him out of hospital more. We took the opportunity to go traveling as a family and do things he’d always wanted to do. We got the opportunity to go to Central Australia, New Zealand to see the snow, and to visit Disneyland and see his favourite basketball team play in America. We felt so lucky to have those memories with him, especially as so many sick children can’t leave hospital,” said Jo.
Despite these extensive treatments, the tumours continued to grow back throughout his body. After a brave fight, Tate sadly passed away in January 2016 at 12 years old.
After four years of processing this immense heartbreak, the Scarce family began considering how they could create a legacy for Tate and give back to the hospital who had done everything in their power to save him. After reaching out to the RCH Foundation, the Scarce’s created the Tate Scarce Fund, with the aim to raise awareness and funds for research of DSCRT and all rare childhood cancers.
With Dean’s passion for cars, their first fundraiser was a four-day rally drive in Tasmania with friends. Looking for other ways to support the RCH, Me and UooUoo: The RCH150 Anniversary Art Trail in 2021 provided a unique fundraising opportunity. The Scarce family aimed to raise $25,000 to sponsor and purchase the UooUoo ‘One sees well only with the heart’ by Vanessa Bong.
“We chose this UooUoo because it’s pink, which was Tate’s favourite colour, and the artist had included a quote from the book The Little Prince. It resonated so much with me and reminded me of Tate,” said Jo.
With this fundraising goal in mind, the March for Tate was established. In March 2021, 100 passionate family and friends came together walk 15km from Southbank where the UooUoo sculpture was located to Moonee Ponds. The group raised over $57,000 which went to the Tate Scarce Fund and allowed them to purchase the sculpture as a memorial to Tate.
“The UooUoo will be installed at the holiday cabin in Echuca, looking over the river which he loved to play in,” said Jo.
As the Tate Scarce Fund continues to grow, so does Tate’s legacy. The Scarce family are looking forward to organising more car rallies, walking events and other fundraisers in the future.
“We can’t thank the hospital enough for what they did for our family. We’re so lucky to have one of the greatest children’s hospitals in the world at our doorstep, and they need our support to continue being great. We hope that the Tate Scarce Fund can advance research at the RCH and make a big difference to the treatment of children with rare childhood cancers.”