Connor Swan is lucky to be alive and wasting no time making the most of it.
The 10-year-old from Carroll was diagnosed with a Wilms tumour in his kidney, aged just 14 months.
He was in out of hospital for months, suffered relapses and sustained two broken legs as a result of his illness.
Dad Aaron said Connor’s condition was that bad for a while, doctors could not guarantee he would live.
“We nearly lost him,” Mr Swan said.
We nearly lost him
Nearly a decade has passed since Connor’s brush with death and he is quickly making up for lost time.
Earlier this month the youngster was presented the Most Outstanding Player award for his top efforts at Gunnedah’s Mineworker Cup Challenge for school-aged rugby league teams.
The carnival was one of Connor’s first games in the sport and certainly not his last.
“He loved it,” Mr Swan said.
Carnival co-ordinator Ross Whitaker said the flyaway winger held his own admirably against class opposition and thoroughly deserved his award honours.
But life hasn’t always looked as bright for the tenacious title holder.
Connor’s older sister Juanita, 15, said it was a tough time for the whole family during her brother’s health battle.
“It was really hard to see him go through it,” she said.
Connor’s first few months of life included bouts of chemotheraphy when he was barely one year old.
After surgery in early 2008 to remove the cancerous tumour, Connor returned home and for a while, things seemed ok. But more serious setbacks followed when he relapsed in June that year and doctors discovered four more tumours in Connor’s tiny body. One on each kidney, one on his bladder and the fourth submerged in stomach fat. He also suffered two bowel obstructions while undergoing more radiotherapy treatment.
In December when he sustained multiple tibia fractures to both legs due to illness complications, doctors treated him with zoledronate, a drug for bone disease.
Mum Diane said although Connor’s ordeal is not over completely, things are definitely looking up.
“Connor is a very happy outgoing little boy,” she said.
“He is well now but needs to have ongoing care.”
The American Cancer Society lists Wilms tumours as the most common cancer in children. About 9 of 10 kidney cancers in children are Wilms tumours.