With a determined spirit and a loving family by his side, Stawell’s Rylan Smith continues to fight a form of leukemia that entered his young body in September last year.
The 10-year-old was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer which instigates an overproduction of immature white blood cells.
His father Matt Smith said Rylan had completed the first round of his final intensification period and was responding well to the treatment.
“He is doing pretty good, he is still fighting,” he said.
“There is a long road ahead still and we are learning each day; if today is a good day that is a bonus, if tomorrow is a bad day then we take it as it comes.
“The intensification period gives you a kick of chemotherapy and makes sure there is no leukemia before the maintenance round.”
Maintenance treatment required the body to maintain zero levels of leukemia for three years.
“Today (Friday) he had an operation for a lumbar puncture,” Mr Smith said.
“So they put chemo in his spine, he doesn't have leukemia there but it acts as a preventative.”
But Mr Smith said Rylan was determined to stay positive and keep fighting.
“He is staying very positive and responding well,” he said.
“It is a big thing for a kid to go through this and any operation, especially when he knows he won’t be able to come home until August at this stage.”
Rylan has been based at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne since September last year.
“He has now started to make some friends in the hospital that are going through a similar situation to him,” Mr Smith said.
“It is good for him, he has realised he is not the only kid going through it and there is potential for these guys to be friends for life.
“Even for Narelle and I, we have been talking to other parents going through it and it makes things easier for everyone, just to have that understanding.”
Mr and Mrs Smith have started a Facebook page, Rylans War on Leukemia, to update the community on his progress.
“We have seen a lot of other families doing it,” Mr Smith said.
“The community is so interested in what’s happening, so we wanted to do something to keep everyone up to date.”
Mr Smith said the journey was a learning curve and positivity was the only way.
“We have ups and downs, but we all have to keep fighting,” he said.