Leo's second battle against tumour

LAST month, Riverside's Fogarty family were happily celebrating their son's first Christmas out of hospital.

The day was a stark contrast to the previous year, when then one-year-old Leo was sick from radiation therapy to stop the growth of a tennis-ball sized tumour.

His mother, Rebecca, and father, Kyron, spent the day nursing Leo through vomiting and diarrhoea and soothing burns left by the treatment.

The couple hoped this year would be different.

They wanted Leo to catch up on lost time and learn how to play, like a child should.

They planned to have another baby and give him a brother or a sister.

But the happiness that followed Christmas did not last long, and all plans were put on hold for the Fogartys  when they learnt two weeks later that Leo's tumour was active again.

An MRI scan revealed the tumour near his stomach had grown by up to 4 millimetres.

Mrs Fogarty said treatment could involve more rounds of chemotherapy - to add to the 43-week schedule Leo endured last time - and surgery.

The family will travel to the Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital on Tuesday in search of treatment and answers.

Mrs Fogarty said the outcomes of this trip were not as promising this time around.

``Leo's cancer is complicated and so rare. There is no other kid that has got what he's got where he has got it,'' she said.

``The medical staff are doing their best, but they're flying blind a lot of the time.''

Mrs Fogarty said Leo's chance of survival was about 60 per cent the first time. Now his chance was 20 per cent.

Mrs Fogarty said instead of focusing on the worst possible outcome, she and Mr Fogarty opted for optimism.

``We have hope that Leo will be one of the two kids out of 10 that makes it through - and why not?''

Leo's life was first in danger at 14 months old, when in September 2011, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma - a rare form of cancer - and a tumour the size of a tennis ball.

Within days of the diagnosis, the family was flown to Hobart for analysis and treatment, then to Melbourne where they remained for six months.

Leo turns three this July but his ordeal has caused his life to stall at 14 months.

Mrs Fogarty said her son's harrowing hospital experiences had hampered his development, leaving him unable to talk and interact properly.

Mr and Mrs Fogarty said they know more now of what to expect in fighting the cancer, but this was no comfort.

``We know more of what we're facing now and the stakes are so much higher,'' she said.

``I know how to be a hospital mum. I see that as my career now.''

The Fogartys will be welcomed in Melbourne by families of sick children they met on their last stay.

The family will take over 44 boxes of small children's picture bandaids for Leo and other children to patch up needle punctures.

Anyone wishing to send bandaids to help Leo and others at the children's hospital, address them to The Fogarty Family at Ronald McDonald House, 22 Gatehouse Street, Parkville Victoria, 3052.

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