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Helping a pint-sized bundle of positivity

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Helping a pint-sized bundle of positivity

A crowdfunding page has been organised to send a young battler overseas to receive life-saving treatment. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

Little Max Robinson is a locally grown fighter. The energetic four-year-old, whose favourite activity in the world is swimming, has been battling a form of childhood leukaemia since he was just 18 months.

Max has faced countless forms of treatment – including a complete bone marrow transplant, and his family has endured hopes of remission and then heartbreak at the news the disease keeps coming back. Now Max requires lifesaving surgery overseas due to the aggressive nature of his cancer.

Living at Alexandra Headland, the Robinson family has been back and forth from Brisbane for most of little Max’s treatment and his mum Cara says this next battle will be the toughest yet.

“He was diagnosed three years ago with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, almost to the date,” she tells My Weekly Preview.

“He started his journey in oncology at that point and had eight months of heavy front-line treatment where we relocated to Brisbane. In June last year, he finished treatment and he got to ring the bell.”

Ms Robinson says the family was just days from flying out to Hawaii for a much-needed family holiday when Max’s health began deteriorating again.

“We took him in for some check-ups and received the unfortunate news the leukaemia was back.

“We did some chemotherapy and immunotherapy and the next suggestion was to have a bone marrow transplant.

“We underwent that in October last year. It was a pretty challenging time and we were in and out of hospital
pretty frequently. But then he was going really well recovering from that and was regaining strength back.”

Ms Robinson says that, four months post-transplant, she noticed bruising on Max’s back, indicating to her something was not right.

“We unfortunately found out a few weeks ago that (the cancer) was back for the third time,” she says. “It was a bit of a rock thrown at us again. It’s a very aggressive return of it.”

She says that 84 per cent of Max’s new bone marrow was consumed by the cancer cells and that they have mutated, making the cancer difficult to treat. It was suggested the family look at international therapies, as it was believed two-thirds of Max’s cells no longer expressed the key gene that could be treated at home.

The family has been able to source treatment in Singapore. However, funding from the Australian Government cannot be obtained as it is deemed ‘experimental’. To book the treatment, the family is required to foot the bill up front. A close friend set up a Go Fund Me page to help get Max the treatment he needs.

“It’s called CAR T-cell therapy,” Ms Robinson says.

“They extract your T cells, or your immunity cells, and they genetically modify them to target specific surface receptors on the cancer cells. Max’s cancer cells are expressing one or both of the surface receptors that this treatment is offering us.

“We’ve been told there is a date available in June. But his type of leukaemia is quite aggressive and comes back quite quickly. So, June is challenging for us. We are working to hopefully get an earlier date. So, we may need to drop everything and leave straight away. When the availability comes, we have to act on it pretty quickly.”

Ms Robinson estimates the family will be in Singapore up to three months, providing the treatment goes to plan. She has been overwhelmed by the community support to help them on this journey.

“Over the past three years, we’ve been fortunate enough to not require funding to get by and we’ve made things work and kept life as normal as we could,” Ms Robinson says.

“We’ve drawn on the community to keep the house tidy or pick up my eldest son when we’ve had sudden admissions, or general meals. But in the past few weeks since launching the Go Fund Me, just reading the messages and seeing the sharing – feeling the community support has been so uplifting.”

Ms Robinson says Max is an engaged, positive little boy and his spirit keeps her going: “Max from a young age was so funny. He was walking before he was nine months old and he was boisterous and advanced.

“He’s a sports lover, he loves the beach and his favourite thing to do in the world is swimming – he’s like a fish. He is so engaged and even when he is going through the worst of things, he’ll still smile and enjoy life. He has this innate ability to forget all the horrible things and just be there in the present moment.

“It’s helped keep me going as well. Everything that I go through is nothing compared to him.”

To donate, visit gofundme.com and search for ‘Help us get Max to Singapore for treatment’.

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