Brave schoolboy's big battle
JOSH Hatfield's life was turned upside down just days after celebrating his 10th birthday.
After weeks of persistent headaches and the sudden onset of double vision, he underwent an MRI scan at the Rockhampton Hospital on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 6.
Just hours later, the Rockhampton schoolboy and his parents Rebecca Lambert and Brendan Hatfield were summoned to the hospital and by 6.30pm Josh and his mum were being flown by the RFDS to the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane.
The MRI had identified a mass at the bottom of Josh's brain, the majority of which neurosurgeons removed a week later.
But a devastating diagnosis was to come.
Doctors confirmed the growth was a medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumour.
"It was terrifying, to be honest, it really was,” Rebecca remembers.
"Probably what scared me the most was the brain surgery. The idea that they were going to cut into Josh's brain... it still makes me teary.
"I cried for several days after the diagnosis but then I realised I had to pick myself up and be strong for my son.
"I needed to know where to from here and what had to be done.”
Rebecca goes on to explain that doctors had to operate again to remove more of the tumour which was "hiding” behind healthy blood vessels.
Then came six weeks of radiation, five days a week.
"That made him sick for the first three weeks. It changed his taste buds to a point where he didn't want to eat and that was a problem in itself. He lost about 7kg during those six weeks,” Rebecca said.
The course of radiation complete, Josh returned home but this weekend he will return to Brisbane for four months of intensive chemotherapy.
"He's still upset that he has to go back but he understands he needs it,” Rebecca said. "He doesn't want to be there but he knows it has to happen.”
Rebecca describes Josh as her "little super hero”.
"He's had three surgeries in total - two for the tumour and one to have a shunt put in to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid.
"Through it all he's had his bad days but he's shown incredible strength.
"It's really not fair. A 10-year-old shouldn't have to go through this; they shouldn't have to be so strong when they are just a kid.
"The whole family is steeling for this next stage.
"I continue to have my moments but I have to be strong too.
"I just say to him, 'Come on buddy, let's get this done. We just need to get this out of the way and then we can come home again',”.