STRONG: The Cannan family have banded together to support young Alex in his cancer battle.
STRONG: The Cannan family have banded together to support young Alex in his cancer battle. Contributed

Young Alex is kicking cancer's butt

ON FEBRUARY 7, 2017, the Cannan family started a fight they never thought they would face - a fight for their four-year-old son's life. A fight against cancer.

Four-year-old Alex had just started his first days of Prep when he became ill. His mother, Natasha Cannan, said he was becoming tired all the time, which was thought to be expected with the big adjustment from kindy to 'real school'.

Random bruises appeared, but they soon went away. That's when the vomiting started and she became "really worried”.

After seeing two doctors, the mother of two took her son to the hospital for a blood test, the test that would diagnose Alex with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

"I still remember the look on the doctor's face when he received the call from pathology with the news of probable leukaemia diagnosis,” Mrs Cannan said.

"I remember almost feeling like I couldn't breathe. I was so overwhelmed.

"I had that gut instinct - obviously he was lacking something, but not in a million years did I think of that diagnosis.”

A few months into his treatment in Brisbane, missing his dad and sister, the four-year-old asked his mum why they had to continue to fight.

And when faced with the reality that if he stopped he could die, he simply looked up to her and said, "Well mum, I want to do anything I can to hug you forever, so let's keep going.”

Now, 16 months into their three-and-a-half year treatment program and only a few weeks off turning six, Alex is a strong, determined boy who is "taking it in his stride” and "kicking cancer's butt”.

They are constantly travelling to Mackay and Brisbane for chemotherapy and there is no looking back.

"There is no option but to win. With Alex being so young, we have no other choice, we have to beat this,” Mrs Cannan said.

In the perfect world, Mrs Cannan said her son could be cancer-free now, but if they stop treatment and there is even one cancer cell in his body, it could send him into a full relapse, slimming his chances of survival.

"We have said through this whole journey we only want to do it once, let's do it right,” she said. "He may be clear now, but it's not worth taking that risk. He knows we have to do it.

"He walks into chemo and gives everyone a high-five and jumps on the bed. Empowering him of the process of fighting cancer has made a difficult journey so much calmer because he feels as though he has some sort of say.”

Nearly halfway through his treatment, he has started playing football for the Emerald Tigers and returned to school full time.

"He's just living like a normal boy,” Mrs Cannan said.

On April 13, 2020, the Cannan family are looking forward to celebrating the end of treatment and the toughest journey they have ever faced.

"I don't think a day has passed that I haven't felt supported,” Mrs Cannan said.

"I want to pay it forward and show everyone the support we have received.”

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