Rory's vital stats


Room 14, Inglewood Primary School. Intermediate team. Year 8

Best friends:

Alex Phillips, Josh Dixon, Luke Thompson, Inglewood Primary School.

Kody Johnston, Dargaville Primary School.


27 March 2002. 13 years of age.


Prior to diagnosis; soccer, swimming, tennis, mountain biking.  He still enjoys; swimming, fishing, tramping, soccer, Star Wars, Pokemon, cooking, building with Lego, drawing, shooting with his bow & BB gun, reading, playing on the Xbox and iPod, riding his bike.

Favourite colour:



cheeky, determined, fun-loving, caring, tolerant, courageous, determined.  Enjoys life.


- mum Leigh Honnor (New Plymouth), dad Sean Gardiner (formerly Whangarei), brothers Sam aged 15years and Colt aged 4 years, Grandad & Grannie Alan & Sandy Gardiner (Whangarei), Auntie Teri & Uncle Graham (Brisbane, Australia), Poppa & Nana John & Heather Honnor (New Plymouth), Uncle Guy (New Plymouth), Cousins Sacha & Corbyn (New Plymouth)


Dog Fern


Ngati Hau, Ngati Wai, Nga Puhi




Rory was a fit, healthy, active 6 year old boy. In February 2009 he started getting intermittent headaches, some serious enough to cause vomiting. Following three trips to the Doctor, and three to Whangarei Hospital, a brain tumor was detected via CT scan on the 17th of March. Rory was admitted to Starship Hospital, Auckland on the same day. At Starship a second tumor was found.  Rory had surgery to remove the primary tumor at the base of his brain on the 20th of March, it was 4x4.5cm. Biopsy revealed it as a Grade 4 Medulloblastoma, a malignant aggressive type of cancer. The Neurosurgeon said Rory's life was on a razors edge, another two weeks and we would have lost him. Rory went on to have four further surgeries, over 20 hours on the operating table; to remove the majority of a second tumor located on his hypothalamus (it couldn't be completely removed), to remove a skull flap and Rickman Reservoir because of chemical meningitis, to insert a femoral line iv line into his groin to harvest his stem cells in preparation for chemotherapy, and to place a VP shunt on his skull to manage hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid on his brain.  Rory spent nine weeks on the Neurosurgical ward.

In May and June 2009 Rory completed 31 sessions of high dose radiotherapy to his brain and spine over a period of seven weeks. He had five weeks ‘leave' at home, then returned to Starship at the end of July for four intensive cycles of chemotherapy with stem cell recovery.  After every cycle Rory was re-admitted to the hospital because of infection.  Each infection required treatment with a broad spectrum of strong antibiotics delivered intravenously.  Rory ceased to eat or drink so was fed with a naso-gastric tube.  A 'milkshake' was pumped into his stomach every night.  Rory completed treatment in time for Christmas 2009.

During his treatment Rory was brave, patient, and tolerant.  He held on to his bright and cheeky spirit through scans, so many intravenous lines his veins collapsed, intensive drug regimes, multiple surgeries, blood tests, physiotherapy, radiotherapy which robbed him of his hair and burnt his skin, chemotherapy which took him to rock bottom, and a greatly reduced ability to do everything he normally did. Rory celebrated his 7th birthday in Starship.

Rory had his first clear MRI scan, to indicate he was in remission, in January 2010.  He returned to Starship for an MRI and blood tests every three months in 2010, and has returned every four months in 2011.  Thankfully every MRI has been clear of disease, and Rory remains in remission.

At the start of 2010 Rory began his rehabilitation.  He had been left with a number of impairments as a result of cancer, and the treatment he received.  He has high frequency, and some mid-frequency, hearing loss, and now wears hearing aids.  Rory has a VP shunt under the skin on the back of his head.  One end of its cable is inserted in his brain and the other is tunnelled under his skin to his abdomen to drain cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).  If the shunt fails, or becomes infected, Rory will need surgery to fit a new device.  Rory has left sided weakness, problems with his co-ordination, and impaired spatial awareness, as a result of surgery.  He had to re-learn how to walk, run and ride a bike (he now rides a trike).  High dose radiotherapy is considered the 'big gun' for medulloblastoma but it has considerable long-term effects.  Rory still has little hair, and this may be permanent.  Damage to Rory's hypothalamus reduced his growth rate to one centimetre per year.  He now has daily growth hormone injections to increase his growth rate to normal.  He is monitored by an Endocrine specialist at Greenlane Hospital.  Rory has had to be reimmunised against childhood diseases, and take Vitamin D to restore his level.

Rory gradually returned to primary school in 2010, increasing his attendance (continuous hours, and days) as he could cope, with Leigh supporting him in Terms 1, 2 and 3.  Three months after starting school Rory was struck down with shingles on his face and head.  He spent a week in hospital for treatment. He suffered from a complication (post-herpetic neuralgia) which sent intense pain shooting through the affected nerves on a random basis.  Rory has had a part-time Teacher Aid, funded by the Ministry of Education, since Term 4 2010.  This is to ensure Rory's safety and wellbeing at school, and so he gets equal access to education.  Radiotherapy has affected Rory's thinking processes.  He now has slow processing speed, there is disruption to his memory, and he has difficulty with complex or novel tasks.  He repeated Year 4 in 2011.

In spite of his impairements the real Rory remains.  He still wrestles with his brother, is fussy about what he wears, takes himself off quietly to draw or construct with the lego, likes a story and a cuddle before going to sleep every night, and has something to cheeky to say on a regular basis.  In 2011 he resumed swimming lessons, started playing soccer again, and completed the Weetbix Tryathlon (supported by Sean).  Rory is finding a new 'normal'.