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Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for any family, even more so when it affects a six year old child and the treatment is thousands of miles away. For this Army family, there was only one answer – pack up and move.

Six year old Zach was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in late 2013, whilst he and his family were living in Northern Australia.

Zach’s dad joined the Army to serve Australia and complete a trade. His service includes a deployment to Afghanistan and postings to different locations around Australia.

The Army has looked after Zach’s family very well, especially since he was diagnosed with a very aggressive malignant brain tumour. Zach’s Dad has been allowed time off to help keep family life as normal as possible.

Once the tumour was found, Zach and his family had four hours to pack up some essentials and fly to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney for emergency surgery. Zach’s Dad immediately spoke to his chain of command and they were supportive of the whole family going.

Zach underwent an eight-hour neurosurgery to remove the golf ball size tumour and then endured six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy during a seven-month hospital stay. He then underwent a bone marrow transplant and another eight weeks in hospital when he couldn’t see his sisters due to the risk of infection.

Despite this treatment, Zach relapsed 11 weeks later, with massive seizures caused by over 30 tumours in his brain. This was followed by a further six weeks of aggressive whole brain and spine radiotherapy, which was a success. Zach’s disease is currently stable.

Unfortunately, Zach still has massive health issues that are side effects of his treatment such as issues with hormones, hearing and viruses.

Zach’s next MRI scan will determine where he and his family stand. Whilst hopeful, they are aware that the oncologists have said there is a 90-95% chance that the tumours will come back within the next five years. For now, Zach and his family are trying their best to enjoy life outside of hospital.

RSL DefenceCare came to the rescue by helping us out with the cost of daycare. As our family became a single income family once Zach was diagnosed, bills and day care normally paid by Mum’s wage became impossible.

“DCO gave me RSL DefenceCare’s information and RSL DefenceCare contacted me shortly after. When asked what our largest stress financially was, I told the counsellor it was daycare and the mortgage.

“If I couldn’t pay for daycare, we would have seriously had to think about sending the girls down to Tassie to live with their grandparents while Zach was undergoing chemotherapy. This would have caused even more emotional stress on the family as a whole. RSL DefenceCare assisted with the girls’ daycare for six months. This was an absolute godsend for us. We were also helped us out with a couple of large outstanding bills.

“The financial assistance with day care has made a horrible situation just that little bit easier. Instead of stressing over money as well as Zach’s cancer, RSL DefenceCare has allowed us to breathe a little easier.”

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