Rory was an active, healthy 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 Childrens 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 he would have died. Rory celebrated his 7th birthday in Starship. 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 at Starship.
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 transplant. 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 and patient. 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, as he clung to life.
Rory had his first clear MRI scan, to indicate he was in remission, in January 2010. He returned to Starship for MRIs and blood tests for five years until 2015. Thankfully every MRI has been NED (no evidence of disease), and Rory remains in remission.
At the start of 2010 Rory began his rehabilitation. He has been left with a number of disabilities as a result of cancer and the treatment he endured.
In spite of his disabilities Rory has been able to find a new normal and pack plenty into his life. He wrestles with his brothers, likes to dress like a typical teenager, takes himself off quietly to read comics or construct with lego, watches movies, explores wild places with his family, and has something to cheeky to say on a regular basis. Rory continues to show incredible courage and tenacity. He is our inspiration.