story Ash has neuroblastoma

Ash’s blood cancer treatment was keeping him alive, but it was also making him suffer

The first thing you notice about Queensland four-year-old Ash Saunders is his bright, beautiful smile, but when he started showing signs of being unwell on a family holiday, his parents – Nataasha and Adam – knew something was wrong.

In January 2022, after a month of hospital visits and appointments, a blood test confirmed the worst. Ash was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a common form of blood cancer that appears suddenly and grows rapidly. The news came as a complete shock to his parents –

It was like I had an outer body experience. I fell onto the floor. I remember my legs giving out. You never, ever think that doctors are going to tell you that your child has cancer,” recalls Nataasha.

From that moment, life became a blur. Since his diagnosis, Ash has faced a long and scary journey – he lost his hair, was covered in bruises, and could barely muster a smile. His treatment has included many lumbar punctures, blood and platelet transfusions and oral and IV chemotherapy treatments at Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Ash suffers from speech apraxia, but as Nataasha explains: “As soon as we drove into the hospital car park, he would just start crying and scream, ‘No, no, no, no, I don’t want to come here.’”

The Queensland Children’s Hospital became Ash’s second home, where he underwent numerous lumbar punctures, blood and platelet transfusions, and received both oral and IV chemotherapy treatments. It was a difficult time for Ash and his family, but amidst the hardship, the Children’s Hospital Foundation provided unwavering support.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation not only provides support during treatment but also invests in groundbreaking research. Currently, researchers at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, funded by the foundation, are working tirelessly to develop treatment strategies that minimize the painful side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be deeply traumatic for children and their families, often leaving long-lasting physical and emotional scars. By supporting the Children’s Hospital Foundation, you can help fund this crucial research project and make a difference in the lives of children like Ash.

The Queensland Government was generously matching every single donation to the Children’s Hospital Foundation as part of their Sick Kids Giving Day Appeal last financial year. The Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO, Lyndsey Rice, expressed her gratitude for the community’s support and emphasized that every donation, no matter the size, makes a significant difference.

Currently in the final stage of his chemotherapy treatment, Ash now requires daily chemotherapy at home and attends appointments at the Queensland Children’s Hospital every three months. Despite the ongoing challenges, Ash’s spirit remains strong, and he has started attending kindergarten a few days a week. His excitement to play and interact with other children is heartwarming.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation continues to provide cutting-edge equipment, vital research, and on-the-ground support to children with various illnesses, injuries, and conditions throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales. Your contribution can help create a brighter future for children like Ash, offering them hope, comfort, and the chance to enjoy their childhood despite the difficulties they face.

To donate, visit the Children’s Hospital Foundation