Patrick Wallace was only eight months old when an MRI scan revealed he had a brain tumour.
Next week, the now-two-year-old “Paddy” has appointment at Sydney Children’s Hospital to have his chemotherapy port removed, the final phase in his treatment.
But the Temora youngster will still face some adjustments as the tumour has left him permanently blind.
It was actually an issue with Patrick’s eyes that raised initial concerns in parents Kristy and Fred.
When Patrick was five months old, he developed a nystagmus – or uncontrolled movements in his eyeballs – and soon afterwards started gagging and choking on food and his milk.
“When he was in the pram, or even a trolley at Woolies, and you went over a bump or a join in the footpath, he’d start screaming,” Mrs Wallace said.
After raising their concerns with a GP, the Wallaces took Patrick for specialist examinations, and the MRI was organised. It revealed a mass, about seven centimetres by eight centimetres, in his brain.
“So we drove to Temora and said goodbye to Audrey, our little girl, and couldn’t tell them much else, except we’re going away and hopefully won't be too long,” Mrs Wallace said.
“A week later he had massive surgery – six hours to try and remove the tumour.
“They were able to remove 90 per cent of the tumour, which was great. They’d thought he’d need multiple surgeries.
“In Patrick’s case the tumour was growing actually within the optic nerve, not along it, so they were able to just follow that nerve and get as much tumour as they could.
“It was a double-edged sword: Now Patrick is blind, permanently, but it’s saved his life too.”
After surgery, the Wallaces were told their son would need 15 months of chemotherapy. Patrick was able to have some of that treatment at Wagga Base Hospital’s hospital at home service, which reduced the number of trips to Sydney the family had to make.
“He was really, really lucky. Every MRI Patrick had showed his tumour had shrunk and significantly,” Mrs Wallace said.
“Now it’s only one centimetre large and we’ve been told that he can live with that quite happily for the rest of his life, so long as it doesn’t reactivate.”
Patrick also has some issues with his pituitary gland and thyroid, but these can be controlled with medication.
“Since he’s gone off chemo, we’ve found Patrick’s development has taken off,” Mrs Wallace said.
“It was like we had 12 months on pause, and now he’s just taken off, back into life.”
During Patrick’s treatment, the Wallaces put together a collection of photos and video of Patrick’s experiences.
They screened this “gratitude project” in Temora and raised money for Country Hope, the Wagga-based charity which helps families with a seriously ill child.