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Family torn apart after their seven-year-old son is diagnosed with cancer

A heartbroken family whose little boy was diagnosed with cancer have revealed they first thought he was struck down with a virus.

Brendan and Gemma Schmidt, from the Sunshine Coast, were last month given the devastating news their seven-year-old son, Raef, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Jess Schmidt said her nephew’s diagnosis took the whole family by ‘surprise’ after the dinosaur-loving primary school student fell ill with what they thought was ‘nothing too alarming’.  

‘He really wasn’t that unwell, he went off his food, he was lethargic,’ Jess said. 

Gemma and Brendan Schmidt, from the Sunshine Coast, were given the devastating news their seven-year-old son Raef is battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Raef was under the weather for a week or two before a 'reddish' rash appeared on his skin

Raef was under the weather for a week or two before a ‘reddish’ rash appeared on his skin

Raef was under the weather for a week or two before a ‘reddish’ rash appeared on his skin, immediately alarming his parents. 

‘They thought it was just a little virus. Once there was the rash, they became really concerned,’ Jess said.   

Mr Schmidt rushed Raef to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital on the afternoon of Sunday, March 21. 

Jess said it was initially thought Raef had meningococcal or meningitis due to the rash.

‘Within half an hour (of arriving at the hospital) he was being transported to the Children’s Hospital in Brisbane,’ Jess said.

The family were then given the upsetting news. 

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.

The cancer, which typically affects younger people, comes with flu-like symptoms.  

Jess Schmidt said her nephew's diagnosis took the whole family by 'surprise' after the dinosaur-loving primary school student fell ill with what they thought was 'nothing too alarming'

Jess Schmidt said her nephew’s diagnosis took the whole family by ‘surprise’ after the dinosaur-loving primary school student fell ill with what they thought was ‘nothing too alarming’

Raef will undergo intensive chemotherapy for the next eight weeks

Raef will undergo intensive chemotherapy for the next eight weeks

The Schmidt’s have been told there is a high survival rate when the cancer is caught early. 

‘The outcome is expected to be positive but you really feel for other children,’ Jess said. 

‘It’s a real silver lining, that’s the most common cancer in children. 

‘It’s going to be a long road.’

Raef will undergo intensive chemotherapy for the next eight weeks. It is expected he will spend the next four months in Brisbane, before he can move back to the Sunshine Coast.

Jess said the seven-year-old felt ‘quite unwell’ when the treatment started this week.

He was put into intensive care as his kidneys ‘didn’t take it well’ but he has since been removed from the unit after feeling better on Wednesday. 

WHAT IS ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKAEMIA? 

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells in the bone marrow. 

Anyone can develop ALL, however, it mainly affects younger people.

Many ALL symptoms are vague and flu-like, such as: 

  • General weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds, heavy periods and blood in the urine or faeces
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone or joint pain 
  • Breathlessness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Feeling full
  • Paler skin than normal

 

Raef (pictured) is the eldest of three children. He has two siblings: Karson, six and Romy, two

Raef (pictured) is the eldest of three children. He has two siblings: Karson, six and Romy, two

When the intensive treatment is completed, Raef will take oral chemotherapy daily for two years. He will also be required to undergo chemotherapy either monthly or fortnightly depending on his condition. 

‘For Brendan and Gemma, it’s really heartbreaking for them. They have two other children Karson, six and Romy, two,’ Jess said. 

‘Trying to have some sort of normality and routine is really tricky for them.’

The family own award-winning building company Brendan Schmidt Constructions.

‘Being self-employed they don’t have the luxury to take sick leave and annual leave,’ Jess explained.

A GoFundMe page has been created on behalf of the parents, who are ‘overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity’. 

The page raised almost $30,000 in just two days.  

The Schmidt's have been told there is a high survival rate when the cancer is caught early. 'The outcome is expected to be positive but you really feel for other children,' Jess said

 The Schmidt’s have been told there is a high survival rate when the cancer is caught early. ‘The outcome is expected to be positive but you really feel for other children,’ Jess said

‘It’s from complete strangers from old friends, old neighbours, school friends, its a real testament to them,’ Jess said.

‘They’re a beautiful family.’

The fundraising page says they are trying to raise money to provide the family with financial support during this ‘extremely hard and overwhelming time’. 

The money raised will go towards hospital fees, parking fees and the fuel costs for travelling to and from Brisbane.  

A GoFundMe page has been created on behalf of the parents, who are 'overwhelmed by everyone's generosity'. The page raised almost $30,000 in just two days

A GoFundMe page has been created on behalf of the parents, who are ‘overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity’. The page raised almost $30,000 in just two days

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk