After experiencing a limp and persistent fever that culminated in full body pain and night-sweats, three-year-old Ryder was eventually diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Ryder's parents, Katherine and Jarrad, share their story.

The heart-breaking reality no parent ever wishes to confront became the daily battle for Jarrad and Katherine in August 2017 when their three-year-old little boy, Ryder, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Jarrad and Katherine tell Ryder’s story,

Five weeks prior to the diagnosis, Ryder began experiencing a limp, followed swiftly by a persistent fever. Night sweats and virus-like symptoms culminated in excruciating pain that soon engulfed his body.

"He was very up and down. The pain was everywhere—his knees, shoulders, armpits, legs, head, and spine. In those five weeks before his diagnosis, we visited the GP eight times. A blood test ruled out leukemia, but Ryder's health continued to deteriorate.” Katherine, Ryder's mum

Battling the Unthinkable

After taking Ryder to hospital to undergo further tests, the family received the shocking news - Ryder's diagnosis was neuroblastoma. The medical team at the Royal Children’s Hospital advised the family that Ryder would need to undergo 24 months of treatment.

Ryder endured seven cycles of chemotherapy, spanning nearly six months. He also underwent a bone marrow transplant that required a 42-day hospital stay and complete isolation from the outside world to safeguard his fragile immune system. Ryder's vulnerability demanded rigorous protection against even the common cold, something which could prove fatal.

Between the early rounds of chemotherapy, he'd return home with no immune system. The family found it almost impossible to manage. They were constantly on edge, and any sign of a fever would send them straight back to the hospital.

"It was pretty bleak because he was the worst-case scenario, with a tumour and cancer throughout his body. The immediate reaction? What can I give him from my body to make him live?" Jarrad, Ryder's dad

A Fresh Hope

Ryder completed his treatment, he was in remission and his health was slowly improving, however, the fear of relapsed remained. The chance of relapse for children with a similar diagnosis to Ryder is as high as 50 percent.

To try and change those odds, Jarrad and Katherine embarked on a mission to raise funds for a potential lifeline: a trial vaccine available at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The vaccine potentially bolsters the body's ability to detect and combat further cancer developments. Initial results showed promise, extending remission periods for some children who relapsed.

Ryder qualified for the trial, but the treatment meant his parents had to make around five trips from Australia to New York, with a treatment cost over $250,000 and additional expenses for travel.

"There's no alternative; as parents, we had no choice. If the trial didn't exist, we would have just wait and hope. But there's just too much chance of a relapse." Katherine, Ryder's mum

Our Little Superhero

With much hard work and support from their community, Ryder’s family was able to fund the treatment program and travel to New York. While the multiple trips were a major undertaking, Ryder successfully completed the program.

Ryder and his family resumed life at home, with Ryder was consistently monitored for any signs of relapse.

It’s been six years since Ryder’s diagnosis, and he is over five years in remission. At the end of October 2023 Ryder will officially be cancer free, and his treatment will formally be completed.

Ryder has just turned 9 years old, is thriving at school, and loving being a part of his local sporting community.

“Ryder's resilience continues to be an inspiring source of strength. He bounced back for all the treatments subsequent scans beyond anyone's expectations. He's our little superhero." Katherine, Ryder's mum