Rocky kid Bailey and his brave battle with brain cancer
A CANCER diagnosis can be devastating but for Bailey Jensen, on the eve of his first day of high school, it was even worse.
Instead of walking through the Rockhampton Grammar School gates when school starts back, the 12-year-old will be down in Brisbane undergoing six weeks of radiation therapy.
Bailey's stepmother Kathryn Jensen said the diagnosis came out of the blue with him not exhibiting any signs or symptoms until very recently.
"A few days before Christmas and he just bumped into a few things and his depth perception was off and he just had a little chuckle about it,” Ms Jensen said.
"He went to his mum's for a week over Christmas and she rang up and said 'something's really wrong, Bailey can't walk properly, he's walking like he's drunk' and she said she's 'really, really worried'.”
After they took Bailey to get a CT scan, they discovered a concerning lesion on his brain and ordered an MRI on New Year's Day at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.
"They located a tumour on his brain stem and they also located a tumour on his spine,” Ms Jensen said.
"They had a surgeon look at Bailey's results and they said it's inoperable.
"There's nerves that run up where the tumour is on his brain stem, it's too dangerous to operate; they'll kill him if they operate on him.”
She said Bailey was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a very rare and highly aggressive and difficult-to-treat tumour found at the base of the brain.
This was the same devastating diagnosis given to another Rockhampton child last year - Kye Funch.
"At the moment he can't walk properly, it's affected one side of his body, that's his arm, everything,” Ms Jensen told of Bailey's condition.
"He's using a wheelchair most of the time because he struggles with distance.
"He's very tired, but because of the medication he's on, he's starving all the time, but he's in good spirits and chirpy.”
Bailey and his parents are staying at Brisbane's Ronald McDonald house while he undergoes hospital treatment.
Ms Jensen said last week Bailey started high-dose steroids and radiation therapy which will continue for the next six weeks as doctors attempt to reduce the size of tumours and to give him more time.
Their desperate quest to treat Bailey has seen his doctors endeavour to enrol Bailey in experimental clinical trials, both in Australia and overseas, and to look into alternative medicines.
"Because it's so rare, the government don't provide a lot of funding,” she said.
"There's definitely a lot more that needs to be done.”
Overseas clinical trials are prohibitively expensive and consequently Bailey's family appealed for help from the community to gather together the necessary finances.
So far, the generosity of locals has contributed more than $9000 into Bailey's fighting fund but it was estimated that an overseas trial would cost at least seven times this amount.
The Morning Bulletin recently told the story of 12-year-old best friends Ella Marshall and Bella Mitchiner who directed half of their profits from their lemonade stand toward their friend Bailey.
A keen soccer player from a very young age, Bailey is a current member of the Bluebirds soccer team.
The Frenchville soccer club are looking at hosting an all ages soccer carnival around February 17 to fundraise for Bailey's treatment.
Ms Jensen said their family had been blown away by the community support. If you would like to help, visit his GoFundMe page: help-bailey-in-his-fights.