Just before his 17th birthday, Lewis from Darwin, experienced unexplained dizziness and nausea. Being a healthy teenager, his family didn’t think much of it. A trip to the GP eventually led him to a referral for a scan to investigate what was happening in his body. Within less than an hour Lewis’ mum, Monica, received a phone call that would change their lives. A tumour the size of a large egg was found on Lewis’ brain.
A mere 24 hours after he was urgently flown to the Queensland Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma – a form of brain cancer. The diagnosis came as a complete shock to the whole family, as they had no history of brain cancer. He immediately had a drain attached to his brain to relieve the build-up of fluid and pressure the tumour was causing his skull.
Lewis’ treatment began with brain surgery to remove the tumour, followed by radiation therapy on his brain and spine for six weeks of intensive treatment. A few weeks after the radiation therapy, Lewis then went through four rounds of chemotherapy. Lewis was also part of a trial supervised by Dr Tim Hassall that stratified treatment based on genetic changes within a tumour. This helped Lewis to receive the best possible treatment for the type of cancer he had.
The journey took a toll on not only Lewis, but the whole family. Lewis and Monica were torn between the hospital in Brisbane and their hometown in Darwin, which meant the family spent a lot of time apart.
Following his cancer treatment, Lewis became ill with infections during each of his chemo cycles, which meant he needed to be hospitalised to avoid life-threatening complications.
Lewis finished his cancer treatment in December 2018 after 10 gruelling months of treatment.
In January 2019, Lewis’ family made the decision to move to Brisbane to be able to access the best possible treatment for brain cancer. Lewis was able to return to his school in December 2018 to graduate high school – an outstanding achievement considering his circumstances – and is now in remission. He is now 18 years old and is taking a gap year to focus on rehabilitating his body after a difficult battle with brain cancer. His plans for the future include starting university in 2020 to study a double degree in global criminology.