Nate's eager-saurus to have his wish!
Dinosaurs were long gone before 5-year-old Nate was born, but there's nothing he doesn't know about them.
Mum's nagging thoughts confirmed
Rachel says she wouldn’t believe the story of her son’s Nate’s leukaemia diagnosis if it didn’t happen to her.
The wish mum describes the lead-up to her healthy son’s diagnosis as “a super unbelievable story”.
Rachel didn’t know anything about leukaemia, yet for three weeks in 2020 she had this nagging feeling inside that Nate, then aged 4, had the condition.
“It was just this crazy thought I kept having for weeks, and I didn’t tell anybody because Nate was really well and everything was fine,” she said.
“I didn’t even know that a blood test would show up leukaemia, yet I had this inner feeling that I needed to get him blood-tested so leukaemia could be ruled out.”
Fast forward a few weeks, and a blood test by her GP showed abnormalities and Nate and his father Josh were soon sitting in a hospital.
Before they left for the hospital, Rachel pleaded with Josh to tell the doctors to test for leukaemia. They did, and the blood test confirmed leukaemia.
“A few months down the track, I asked Josh about what the doctors had said to him that day,” Rachel said.
“They asked Josh if I knew anything about leukaemia. They were shocked that I didn’t, because Nate had no symptoms.”
Leukaemia caught early
Rachel said Nate’s early diagnosis was nothing short of a miracle.
“People do say mother’s intuition, and I’m all for that, but we just class this as a miracle,” Rachel said.
“Because we did get onto it early, it hadn’t spread, and he didn’t have any tumours.”
Nate’s diagnosis came only 10 days before Christmas 2020. The day before, Rachel had taken him Christmas shopping and was surprised when Nate wasn’t enjoying the experience.
“He said he didn’t want to be shopping,” Rachel said. “He said his legs were sore, and I thought he was being lazy, but in reality, he had leukaemia, and his bones were actually really sore. It’s heartbreaking to look back on.”
Further heartbreak came when the family couldn’t spend Christmas day together, as Nate’s treatment plan kicked into gear.
Nate's slow steps back
Nate has undergone 10 months of intensive chemotherapy and had to deal with side effects such as hair loss and being unable to walk.
“Even his speech became really slow,” Rachel said. “There wasn’t one low point; there were lots of low points.”
Nate has begun less-intensive maintenance chemotherapy which will be completed in early 2023.
He’s been able to return to swimming lessons and go back to kindergarten.
“His hair has grown back, and he’s looking amazing,” Rachel said.
“It’s really hard to describe him because there’s the Nate before diagnosis, and now there’s another Nate. He feels everything really deeply. It’s just one little thing that can tip him over now.”
Dinosaur adventure excites Nate
One thing that has not changed about Nate is his love of things that stomp and roar. To be specific, dinosaurs!
“He loves that they stomp and roar and have really sharp teeth,” Rachel said.
Nate wishes to have an amazing dinosaur adventure, and learn all about being a palaeontologist.
When the Make-A-Wish volunteers, also known as the Wish Force, met Nate for the first time, they came prepared, bringing toy dinosaurs. .
“The volunteers took Nate out for ice cream and gave him toy dinosaurs to build up his anticipation,” Rachel said. “They also gave him a Wish Coin to hold onto and keep close, so he knows that his wish is going to happen.
“He keeps the coin in his display cabinet in his room. It’s special, and he says his brothers aren’t allowed to touch it.”
Hope fuels family
Nate’s favourite dinosaur is the Tyrannosaurus (or T-Rex), followed by the Velociraptor.
“He’s lined up his dinosaur figurines, and he knows all their names,” Rachel said. “He’s taught me too. If I was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the last question was a crazy dinosaur question, I would probably know the answer to it.”
Rachel said Nate's wish experience will mean so much to the family.
“As much as it will blow Nate’s mind, it will blow my mind because we’ll be able to have experiences like this for the first time since his diagnosis,” Rachel said.
Rachel is so enthusiastic about Make-A-Wish she cut of her hair to raise money so other children could experience wishes.
“I think what Make-A-Wish does is incredible. When you go to the hospital, as we have with Nate, you see how terrible it is for these kids,” she said.
“You can’t give them back their health, but you can give them a wish. Hope is a super powerful thing, and at times when you’re going through treatment, it is definitely in short supply. Giving hope to families is a really great thing.”
Nate is one of the Make-A-Wish kids waiting for a wish this Christmas. Find out more here
As much as it will blow Nate’s mind, it will blow my mind because we’ll be able to travel as a family and have experiences like this for the first time since his diagnosisRachel, mum of Nate acute lymphoblastic leukaemia