Courageous four-year-old defeats extremely rare condition
A YOUNG and extremely rare cancer survivor is learning to live a completely different life; one that doesn't include gruelling chemotherapy, radiation and despair.
Gladstone's Eli Vale, 4, was diagnosed two years ago with Ectomesenchymoma - a malignant skeletal muscle tumour of the soft tissue and nerves.
Eli's parents Rosalie Hovey and Jeff Vale were told the cancer was so rare and that their son was the first in Australia with the condition.
He is one of 44 cases known worldwide.
But Eli is now cancer free after one year of regular 14-hour round trips to Brisbane, constant chemotherapy and radiation plus major surgery.
"He was two when they diagnosed him," Ms Hovey said.
"He had three cancers in one; partly tissue, partly muscle and partly ligaments.
"The cancer had spread all throughout his stomach and doctors told us it was a condition (with) ... little information available."
Ms Hovey said after her son's diagnosis she was moved to Ronald McDonald house while her husband continued to work in Gladstone.
"The doctors were trying everything, pretty much winging it, and we had to stick with that," Ms Hovey said.
"They had examples from cases overseas that (they) had to go by and at one point (Eli) was taking 12 different medications daily.
"I never dared to Google his condition and could never think about what the next day would bring, it was always just about what was happening right there in the moment."
Ms Hovey said doctors were shocked to find nearly 1kg in tumours when they operated on Eli.
"He also missed out on being a kid, making friends and having fun," she said.
"And he is only just being toilet trained now because when he was in hospital they had to move his lower intestines up to the side of his stomach and that's where he had to go to the toilet."
Ten months into remission, Eli is excited to start the next chapter of his life and hang out with little brother Jaxon, 2, and older sister Ava.
Eli will start kindergarten at Rainbow Valley Early Learning Centre in 2019.
"We are so excited to see Eli grow into himself. Even at his sickest he was such a caring, clever, courageous and beautiful boy," Ms Hovey said.
She said her family and friends would head to Kirkwood McDonalds on McHappy Day to raise money towards cancer research.
"We are hoping to get everyone to come down on November 17, have a bite and donate what they can because it is so important," Ms Hovey said.
After a busy, full-on few years, she said she and her fiance hoped to finally tie the knot in 2020.