Helping hero Hunter

Sometimes a story is so compelling and so heart-wrenching that it really doesn't need any introduction.

This is one of those stories.

It is told by Kate Bettenay who is the mother of a truly inspirational 4-year-old boy named Hunter.

And we'll explain why we're featuring it and what you can do to help at the end.

Over to you, Kate.

"On the 6th November 2016, Hunter was enjoying himself at the Subiaco Primary School Spring Fair like all the other 3-year-olds.

He was a little pale after being unwell on and off in the previous weeks, but was excited about being out in the sunshine.

Soon after getting there, we realised something wasn’t quite right; Hunter’s heart was racing. We called an ambulance and he was rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital.  Routine bloods were taken and later he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

In that instant, his and our world was turned upside down.

Hunter went on to spend the first month in the Total Care Unit where our once-active 3-year-old lost the ability to walk, feed and toilet himself. He had many bad reactions to the medications that saw him gain huge amounts of weight, develop diabetes and high blood pressure, suffer from severe bone pain, insomnia and erratic mood swings.

Last summer, while other kids his age were getting excited about starting Kindy, Hunter was having a central line inserted into his heart to assist with the administration of chemotherapy. While kids negotiated bed times, Hunter negotiated with doctors and nurses about when and where to stick the needles into his little body.

Hunter has so far had six intense rounds of chemotherapy, two bone marrow aspirates, heart echoes, ultra sounds, x-rays, countless anaesthetics and lumbar punctures to administer chemotherapy into his spinal cavity. Hunter has spent much of the past year in hospital for both routine and emergency visits. He has had numerous blood transfusions.

We are a year into our journey with Hunter's Leukaemia and we have another two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy ahead with an end date of May 2020.

Hunter has a very rare form of Leukaemia with a higher risk of relapse. A search for a bone marrow donor was started in case he should need one in the future. His best chance was his baby brother, but unfortunately he came back a negative match. We decided to hold a bone marrow drive to raise awareness in the hope more people would join the registry and assist with finding Hunter a match.

In so many ways Hunter is no longer a normal kid. He cannot go to crowded places because of the added risk of infection. This means no going to the shopping centre, no birthday parties, playgrounds, fairs or shows. He cannot go to public swimming pools, play in sand pits, ride a bike, or a scooter, or play on climbing equipment.

The physical effect on our boy has been profound. Hunter now struggles with balance and getting up from the ground; he has lost his reflexes and walks with a dropped foot. All his hair fell out. He is often in agony at night from the pain.  His mouth is often filled with ulcers making it hard for him to eat and drink. Most tragically though, he has had to watch as some of the little friends he has made in hospital have lost their battle and grown their angel wings.

He has gained a passion for colouring in and drawing. He has submerged himself in the life of dinosaurs and become an avid fisherman. He is known around the ward as a bit of a joker and often has the nurses in stitches with his made-up jokes and love of eating freshly caught fish.

Hunter has handled his treatment like a trouper and never ceases to amaze us with his resilience, positivity and strength.

He truly is our inspiration and we pray he continues to respond well to treatment.

He truly is our hero."

As a club we are determined to do our bit to  help Hunter and thousands of other people like him, which is why we'll be taking a very active part in this year's World's Greatest Shave which is set to be launched next month.

A number of our highest-profile players have volunteered to participate and we're calling on the whole of the Glory family to get on board and help them raise as much money as possible for this incredibly worthwhile cause.

We'll have full details later in the week, so watch this space.

But for now, please click HERE for more information on the World's Greatest Shave.