Meet Chase

In October 2022, Shana took her four-year-old son Chase to their local emergency department with what she suspected was a hernia. Instead, the mum of four heard a word no parent wants to hear – cancer.  

“He had none of the symptoms you would normally hear about with cancer. He was still very active, he didn’t have any bruises, he wasn’t sleepy, and he was still eating. There was nothing except for a little lump near his groin which would appear then disappear,” explained Shana. 

“One morning I noticed the lump had gotten bigger, so I took him to the hospital where they told us it wasn’t a hernia at all, it was an inflamed lymph node. I still remember when they said, ‘it’s looking like it might be cancer,’” said Shana.  

More tests were ordered, and the next morning, Shana was advised to take Chase straight to The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), four hours from their hometown of Wodonga.  

Two young boys are hugging. They are brothers. The younger boy is on the left. He has a shaved head and a nasogastric tube. The older boy has his arm around the younger boy. They are both smiling.

Chase and his older brother after his diagnosis

A few days later Chase’s diagnosis was confirmed – he had an aggressive form of cancer called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).  

Luckily, as an RCH patient, Chase was given access to the latest in personalised medicine through the TOTAL Therapy Study XVII, also known as TOTAL 17.  

Made possible thanks to the Good Friday Appeal’s Run for the Kids, TOTAL 17 provides patients like Chase with the opportunity to receive treatment specifically designed to fight their type of cancer.  

Chase is now halfway through his treatment, and while Shana doesn’t sugar coat how challenging it has been, she is grateful for support they have been offered at the RCH.  

“Because of Chase’s treatment protocol, we had to spend the first five months at the RCH while Mark, Chase’s dad, and our other kids stayed at home in Wodonga. It was a real juggle. 

“Sixteen months in and we’re only coming to Melbourne twice a month which involves chemo and a monthly lumbar puncture. It’s still a lot, but it’s better than it was. I feel lucky to have a supportive care team – I couldn’t have picked a better specialist or nurse coordinator to help us through this process,” Shana said.  

She is also emphatic about the difference that the Comfort First program has made in Chase’s journey. Thanks to philanthropic support from Camp Quality and My Room Children’s Cancer Charity, the Comfort First program uses play techniques and education to reduce pain and distress during cancer treatment.  

“The Comfort First team have been there for every dressing change Chase has had which I am so grateful for… it has really helped him physically, emotionally and mentally.  

“It’s also empowered him. We’ve gone into Albury Hospital, and they’ve commented on how confidently Chase walks in and says things like, ‘that’s not right, you have to count to three before you take off my band aid,’” Shana added.  

Chase with Jess, one of the Comfort First Clinicians

Another silver lining from their hospital stays has been the Camp Quality Puppets, who visit the RCH’s Kookaburra Ward each week.  

“Seeing his laughter and smile when the puppets come into the room… that has been the best.” 

For Shana, witnessing her active and outgoing boy thrive thanks to the care of the RCH is nothing short of amazing. She also knows the difference that philanthropy has made in their journey.  

“You think a hospital is somewhere a child goes and gets fixed and that’s that. But when it’s an ongoing process, their mental, emotional and social health is all joined together with their physical health. So having programs that support all of that, that people generously support, it’s amazing. Every donation really does make a difference,” she said.  


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