Five-year-old Rory Trist doesn’t remember the last time he was away from home with his parents for holidays.
In the past three years, the furthest his parents took him was an hour away from their Perth home and hospital.
More than half of Rory’s young life has been spent facing a battle, far too heavy for his small shoulders to bear.
At the age of barely three, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common form of cancer in children.
Each year in Australia over 300 people are diagnosed with ALL, most of them kids.
“He’s had a pretty hard time and many problems in the last three years. He had just turned three when he fell really sick, as it took us quite a while to find out what was really wrong,” Rory’s mother, Tracey Trist (nee Sertis) tells Neos Kosmos.
“He had a high fever to begin with, that continued on for a month and kept getting higher. Then the lymph nodes started swelling in his neck, and he started to become anaemic after about six weeks. By eight weeks, he had an enlarged liver, he bruised very easily. By then we knew there was something wrong.”
Although with a good success rate in survivors, there is no cure for lymphoblastic leukaemia, which can be a life-threatening condition.
With Rory undertaking monthly treatments in hospital and daily chemotherapy treatments at home, Tracey, a member of the Hellenic Community of Western Australia, says once all the treatments are finished, it’s the matter of keeping an eye on all the side effects the strong treatments can cause.
“He finishes his treatment in January, he is on a clinical trial now. After that, we’ll have to keep an eye on side effects and we’ll remain under the hospital care until he is about 16. It’s still going be a lengthy process,” Tracey says.
The last three years for Rory and his family have been incredibly tough. With Rory still attending school when his condition allows, Tracey says her five- year-old is doing considerably well given the amount of medication he is on.
“However, he doesn’t feel 100 per cent ever, and that’s quite difficult for him at school. He gets very tired, but considering what he is on I think he is doing a good job.”
For Tracey and Eugene as parents, it was much harder to come to terms with Rory’s diagnosis.
“We are good now, much better than we were when compared to that initial shock and not knowing what was going to happen. I guess the thing is you just have to live with it as you can’t control it. Dealing with things as they come along – and that took a long time to accept.”
But there is a glimmer of hope. Rory is waiting for a very special wish to come true – a family holiday to the Gold Coast, where he can visit the theme parks and go on scary rides with his biggest hero – his dad Eugene.
Because of Rory’s leukaemia, the two of them haven’t had the same chances to build those special, carefree childhood memories as father and son.
The thought of his wish coming true is giving strength and hope not only to Rory, but to Eugene and the whole family too.
“We haven’t been away more than an hour from the hospital for years, and it’s something Rory is looking forward to. He’s chosen to go to the Gold Coast and see the theme parks and be able to play like every child in the water, to go for a ride with his dad. With the trip getting closer, in March, he keeps talking about it.”
With Rory a grandson of Perth Greek community members Jack and Crystal Sertis, the Hellenic Community of Western Australia is calling on members to help Rory’s wish come true.
To make a wish like Rory’s come true, visit https://www.makeawish.org.au to donate or call 1800 032 260.