Brave little Ben first to complete chemo in new cancer unit
SPORTING a brave face and a well-worn Spiderman costume, Gladstone's Ben Jessen was everyone's hero yesterday.
The five-year-old had completed his final round of chemotherapy, after requiring monthly treatments for the past three years for his acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Little Ben was just two-years-old when he first presented to doctors with bruises all over his body.
"We knew something wasn't right...I had a local doctor send child services to my home," Ben's mother Renee Jessen said yesterday.
"In the end, I had a wonderful doctor diagnose my son with a blood test.
"To be honest I am not sure where we go from here, I am just glad my son is healthy again."
Ben was the first child to have completed a full treatment of chemotherapy at the Rockhampton Hospital, thanks to the new cancer service.
With the needle out and a happy crowd around him, Ben literally rang the bell on three years of treatment.
The golden bell was donated to the ward by Ben and his family, so kids in Rockhampton could celebrate the milestone.
"In Brisbane they have a bell that they ring when they finish their chemotherapy... Rockhampton didn't have one," Renee said.
"I think it is important for the children, it signifies something to them and they just look forward to doing it."
Acting nurse unit manager Rinnah Fry said there were four children on the paediatric ward receiving active chemotherapy treatment.
What is ALL?
It is characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells (lymphoblasts)
The cells prevent the manufacture of normal blood cells
More than 300 people are diagnosed each year