We know our babies’ gorgeous little bodies so well.
We know every single inch – every fold of skin, roll of baby fat, spot and little mark.
New mum Kate Merry was no different – so when she noticed a strange bump while changing her son Freddy’s nappy three days after he was born, she knew something was wrong.
But what happened next left her reeling.
Q: When did you realise something was wrong?
A: It was three days later [after birth] when I was up and about finally and changing his nappy for myself that I looked down. As I was lifting his bottom for a clean nappy, I thought “there’s his big bottom” but I realised it was only on one side. We realised something was out of place and raised the alarm.
Q: Freddy wasn’t properly diagnosed until he was seven months old. How did you discover it was cancer?
A: At 10 days, Freddy and I were flown from Alice to Adelaide for a biopsy and MRI. Nobody knew what the problem was. They wouldn’t use the ‘C’ word but were using terms like ‘mass’ and ‘lesion’. We were released with a diagnosis of a non-malignant tumour that was extremely rare but generally not progressive.
Q: Freddy was eventually diagnosed with a rare infantile fibrosarcoma. That must have felt like a kick in the guts.
A: I walked out with my world falling out from under me trying to think of the words to tell my husband back in Alice. Fred was seven months old. It took me until the end of the day to make the call. None of the information was reassuring, and the description of the chemotherapy, the administering process and possible side effects was nothing short of horrific and devastating.
Q: How did you manage to get through Freddy’s treatments?
A: My family immediately offered to drop their lives and help. My sister moved to Sydney from the Cape for the first three months and we travelled that first part of the journey together with Freddy. I couldn’t have done it without her companionship and sense of humour. And when my parents returned from overseas, they moved into help for the duration (18 months in total before we could come back to Alice to live). My husband, Brad, and older son, Jim, were still in Alice. My brother popped down from Darwin to lend them a hand whenever he could.