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Real Stories

Nathan and Michael: Cancer and never giving up on your dream

“If it wasn’t for the financial support we received from Redkite, I don’t think we would have survived.”

Nathan wants nothing more than to become a professional footy player. His dream was almost cut short when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) when he was 16 years old. His father, Michael, remembers Nathan’s resolve to never give up on his dream even during the darkest hours of his cancer journey.

Be your child’s voice. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to stand up for them no matter how uncomfortable that may be for you.
~ Michael, father of Nathan

In October 2017, Nathan was playing at the Queensland U14 Carnival representing Gold Coast North Football Club when he felt dizzy, and had spots in his vision after a game.

He would also come home from school feeling tired and was having frequent afternoon naps.
That was the start of our journey. We knew something was wrong.

On 8 December 2017, after several blood tests, Nathan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

The first things Nathan asked were: “Can I still play footy, and will I lose my hair?”

The first answer was: “No, with the second being most likely.”

We drove Nathan to the hospital in Brisbane the next day and he spent his first week starting his treatment.

If it wasn’t for the financial support we received from Redkite, I don’t think we would have survived.
~ Michael

During our first day at hospital we received a Redkite Red Bag with some very useful information. It was then we realised that the footy club that we belonged to, the Sydney Swans, supported Redkite.

We needed to move to Brisbane for the first month during Nathan’s treatment to be close to the children’s hospital. We had a very nice person from The Crest at Woolloongabba offer us a 2 bedroom apartment at a substantial discount. They would even give Nathan and his mother Lisa a lift to the hospital.

Then after that I would drive him to and from the hospital and stay with him on the day admissions.

When Nathan needed to stay for longer, Lisa would spend the day with him and I would do the nights sleeping on the couch next to him.

After a year of intensive treatment Nathan started some training.

In January 2019, his footy club the Labrador Tigers started preseason training. Nathan managed 1 lap of the oval on his first session. He continued each week, and slowly gained some fitness.

Then we met Joey Hayes from Ultimate Sports Performance who decided to sponsor Nathan. He is the main reason Nathan became stronger, fitter and faster.

He was able to play most of the season 2019. Nathan had 2 weeks break and then started to train again with Joey and was asked to try out for the Gold Coast Suns Academy, which he was accepted into, which helped his fitness and confidence.

Nathan played the season with a chest port in as well as receiving monthly chemotherapy and was taking daily tablets.

He received several awards for his bravery and for being an inspiration.

The biggest thing was that he had grown from a child into a man through a painful journey that no one should have to experience.
~ Michael

Then we got to 2020 and decided to get Nathan’s port removed before the season started and do his last chemotherapy treatment via a cannula.

This was a good decision as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia just as he had his operation.

Nathan could not go to school and then schools shut down but he kept on training at home.

The footy season started late but Nathan still managed to play the season in the Colts which helped him build his game fitness and skills.

This season has come to an end so Nathan has already started setting goals for season 2021.

He will be training twice a week with USP and hopes to be training once a week with some one on one AFL tuition.

This time had a severe effect on our family personally and financially as I was self-employed and needed to drop a lot of work as Nathan became my priority.

Redkite have been such a great help with paying some bills for us. If it wasn’t for the financial support we received from Redkite, I don’t think we would have survived.

Redkite also gave Nathan a Redkite & Coles Dare to Dream Scholarship, which enabled him to support Joey and give something back to his trainer.

Life is still difficult for our family, especially financially as my work is rather spasmodic due to the pandemic, but I am confident things will only get better from here.

After all I have my champion son who has been given back to me from a diagnosis of possible death to the potential of a long life.

My advice for anyone given this as a journey would be, firstly: advocate for your child.

Be your child’s voice. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to stand up for them no matter how uncomfortable that may be for you.

Secondly, if you have other children, keep them involved. Make time for them as well. It’s an extremely hard time for everyone.

Thirdly, join a support group. Your friends and family are well meaning but no-one can understand what you are going through unless they have been there themselves.

Lastly, let go of the negative people and hang on to those that support you.

I found out who the real people are during this journey. The last thing you need during this time is trying to explain your actions. All you need is support.

For Michael, financial stress was one of the biggest worries during Nathan’s cancer journey. Without financial support, he believes his family would not have survived.

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