‘We’re battered’: CQ family’s harrowing nine-month journey
THE “emotional roller coaster” the Kent family has ridden for more than nine months has finally come to a halt.
Eli, 13, has been declared cancer-free after a grueling regime that included 18 cycles of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.
The welcome news came nine months and nine days after the Yeppoon schoolboy was initially diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in his right ankle.
However, a full body scan a week later would show the cancer had spread.
He started treatment at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, his parents Jackie and Stu and sister Ella relocating from Yeppoon to be by his side.
It was on November 12 that Eli and his parents heard the two monumental words they had been hoping and praying for.
“The oncologist told us the results were really good. He showed us the whole PET scan - we looked at his body from his brains to his toes - and he said, ‘he’s clear’,” Jackie said.
“That was a massive relief. I just cried, Stu sat there and had a moment, and Eli was just really relaxed about it. He said, ‘I knew I was alright’.”
Surgeons then removed Eli’s central line on November 17 and two days later, he rang the ceremonial bell, which celebrates the end of his treatment.
“It was just the best. I didn’t cry, I was just happy,” Jackie said.
“We were just so proud to see him ring that bell.
“We were just so relieved that we don’t have to go back there anymore.
“I put two photos up on Facebook the other day – one was of Eli when he had the central line put in and the second was when he had the line taken out.
“He’s rounder and puffier because of the treatment he’s had, but he’s grown from that young boy into a young man.
“How he’s learnt to deal with things and the person that he’s become… they’re the only good things that could come out of it really.”
Jackie has been in Brisbane for the length of Eli’s treatment, while Stu and Ella have returned to Yeppoon occasionally.
The family plans to return home sometime this week.
Jackie said she couldn’t wait to “just get in that car and drive over the bridge from Brisbane and not look back”.
“People said you need to go on a holiday, and we said we just need to be home,” she said.
“We’re battered from it, we have a lot of healing to do and the only place we can do that is back at Yeppoon, that’s where we need to be.
“In saying that, it will be an adjustment now to not being in that bubble of the hospital, not constantly having appointments, that’ll be strange.
“But I just can’t wait to get out of here and take Eli home. He just wants to get home and see his friends again.
“Little Ella, every day she packs something, and it’s like we’re going home soon.
“We have a vision board in our minds of driving down Rocky Road and catching the first sight of the water in our town. That will be a good moment.
“We just want to walk through our front door, see our dog Rex, just see Yeppoon again
“I want to take Eli to the beach and sit him down and say, ‘Look where we are, we’re back’.
“To sink our feet in the sand will be mind-blowing.”
Jackie said Eli was walking with crutches and would continue to have daily physiotherapy on his ankle.
“We have follow-ups - we have a phone consult in six weeks and every three months he has to come down to have scans,” she said.
“We have to pray it doesn’t come back, and that’s something we have to live with unfortunately.”
The Kent family still marvels at the incredible support they have received from their hometown - and further afield.
“The amount of support we have had, and I’ve said this before, but that little town of Yeppoon, it just keeps on giving,” Jackie said.
“We’ve had people helping out with so much stuff, from cleaning our house, to stocking up our fridge/freezer, to donating hampers.
“I know we’re just going to come back and not have to worry about anything for a while so it’s fabulous.
“We’ve had amazing support from people we don’t even know, from all over the world basically with the Rise for Eli Facebook page.
“We’ve had some beautiful messages from people and that’s what got us through.
“We never once felt like we were alone in this, we had so many people with us.”