New Zealand

Last chance to save 2-year-old son

In two days a Taranaki family will move to the US in one last hope to save their 2-year-old son.

Corey Keeling - a boy whose mother describes him as never without his gumboots and full of energy - was diagnosed with an aggressive stage four neuroblastoma cancer earlier this year.

After six rounds of chemotherapy and two high-risk surgeries, Corey's only chance of survival is to travel to New York in a desperate hope of urgently being put on a lifesaving clinical trial.

Hundreds of New Zealanders have been getting behind this story with more than $26,000 raised, so far, on the family's Givealittle page.

His parents dairy farmers Hayden and Aly Keeling say they will do whatever it takes to save their wee boy.

"You don't realise how much fight you have until you are faced with something like this. I guess that parental instinct kicks in.

"I had this perfect child, our whole lives were all planned out and within just a few moments it was pulled away from me," Aly told the Herald this morning in tears.

Corey was rushed up to Auckland's Starship Hospital in March after a hard lump was discovered on his tummy.

A 12cm mass was found in his abdomen and the following day he started chemotherapy.

Aly, a 33-year-old treasury analyst, said the worst part was his tumour had invaded one of his major arteries - known as the inferior vena cava - and had grown into the right atrium of his heart.

"The tumour was so close to entering one of his ventricles and if that happened he would have died."

In June, after his fifth round of chemotherapy, Corey underwent a surgery that successfully removed over 90 per cent of the tumour in his abdomen.

"We were so thrilled with the progress he had made. For the first time we were able to take Corey home.

"And in that time he turned two and he was running around the farm like a normal kid. He was driving the tractor with his dad and visiting the cows which he loves - things seemed to be getting back on track."

Earlier this month the family received a call informing them of Corey's latest MRI scan that showed a spot of cancer in his brain.

On September 11, Corey had his second round of surgery to remove the mass in his brain.

"We are 99 per cent that mass has been removed but he now has what's called a Central Nervous System (CNS) Relapse," Aly said.

There were only two hospitals in the world able to treat CNS - one in Barcelona and other in New York at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Hospital.

As Keeling was born in America and Corey has dual citizenship there, the family plan to move New York in the hope of getting on the trial.

"We have been in communication with the oncologists over there but there is a lot that is still up in the air at the moment."

The family are due to fly out from Auckland airport on Wednesday.

This heart-breaking story comes less than a week after young Auckland father Kurt Brunton flew to the US for a lifesaving immunotherapy treatment.

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