A surprising memorial for a child lost to cancer
NEVER forgotten, Robert Agius lives on in the memory of those who loved him most.
In June 2006, a lump the size of a 10 cent piece was found on the left side of the head of the one-year-old.
Before long it grew to the size of a goose egg, until he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer the day before his second birthday.
Enduring blood tests, bone marrow tests, chemotherapy, CT scans and needles in his spine, Robert battled the disease.
The treatment worked. He was declared cancer-free but there was a twist.
"The doctors decided to stop his treatment a little bit earlier as they thought his cancer was a straightforward lymphoma and because he was in remission they thought he'd be fine," his mother Denise Agius explained.
"Months later, he relapsed, and that's when they realised his cancer wasn't what they thought it was."
Doctors were left confused, and sent biopsies to hospitals in Sydney, the US and Scotland.
When a full diagnosis was finally made Robert, at five years old, was given less than a 30% chance of survival.
However, in 2009, he was again declared cancer-free once but 3-4 months later relapsed for the second time.
With the support of doctors, Robert's parents decided to stop treatment so he could live out a quality life.
"Towards the end, Robert wasn't really able to eat," Denise said. "Robert loved Kinder Surprises though. So we used to buy them in bulk, and that's pretty much all he would eat."
At 3:30am on June 12, 2010, despite being on heavy medication, Robert woke up in his family home in Mackay, hugged his parents, told them he loved them, then returned to sleep.
When Denise checked on him at 9am, she found he had passed away.
Tucked under his arm was a bag of his favourite Kinder Surprise toys.
It's with this memory that each year on his birthday, November 29, his mother Denise organises friends and family to eat a Kinder Surprise in Robert's honour to keep his spirit alive.
Participants from as far away as The Netherlands join in, sharing photos of themselves unwrapping the iconic chocolate egg.
Family member Cassie Stone said all of her children had been close to Robert and that he was always a very special boy. Each year she and her family share a Kinder Surprise in his memory.
Denise hoped one day Ferrero, parent company of Kinder, will donate 5c from each Surprise sold on November 29 to support childhood cancer research.
A spokesperson for Ferrero Australia said as it already supports social causes in Australia and overseas, they would be unable to donate to Robert's cause, however, did offer complimentary Kinder products to Denise and her family.