Family torn apart after their young son is diagnosed with cancer
A heartbroken family whose little boy was diagnosed with cancer have revealed they first thought he was struck down with a virus.
Brendan and Gemma Schmidt, from the Sunshine Coast, were last month given the devastating news their seven-year-old son, Raef, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Jess Schmidt said her nephew's diagnosis took the whole family by 'surprise' after the dinosaur-loving primary school student fell ill with what they thought was 'nothing too alarming'.
'He really wasn't that unwell, he went off his food, he was lethargic,' Jess said.
Raef was under the weather for a week or two before a 'reddish' rash appeared on his skin, immediately alarming his parents.
'They thought it was just a little virus. Once there was the rash, they became really concerned,' Jess said.
Mr Schmidt rushed Raef to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital on the afternoon of Sunday, March 21.
Jess said it was initially thought Raef had meningococcal or meningitis due to the rash.
'Within half an hour (of arriving at the hospital) he was being transported to the Children's Hospital in Brisbane,' Jess said.
The family were then given the upsetting news.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.
The cancer, which typically affects younger people, comes with flu-like symptoms.
The Schmidt's have been told there is a high survival rate when the cancer is caught early.
'The outcome is expected to be positive but you really feel for other children,' Jess said.
'It's a real silver lining, that's the most common cancer in children.
'It's going to be a long road.'
Raef will undergo intensive chemotherapy for the next eight weeks. It is expected he will spend the next four months in Brisbane, before he can move back to the Sunshine Coast.
Jess said the seven-year-old felt 'quite unwell' when the treatment started this week.
He was put into intensive care as his kidneys 'didn't take it well' but he has since been removed from the unit after feeling better on Wednesday.
WHAT IS ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKAEMIA?
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells in the bone marrow.
Anyone can develop ALL, however, it mainly affects younger people.
Many ALL symptoms are vague and flu-like, such as: