Family backs young cancer survivor after third diagnosis

Family backs young cancer survivor after third diagnosis

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Levi is keeping his sense of humour through the ordeal.

A cancer diagnosis is never fair.

But for a young bloke to cop it three times before he turns 21 has got to be some kind of cruel cosmic joke.

And yet, that’s Levi Tracy’s devastating reality.

The Seville Grove kid was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoma at the tender age of seven, and he underwent two and a half years of gruelling chemotherapy.

“It’s devastating when you first hear those words: ‘your kid has cancer’. Your whole world is flipped around,” Levi’s dad, Mark Tracy said.

“It had a ripple effect on everyone around him. Suddenly our whole life was about keeping him alive.”

The Tracy family are steeling themselves for a fight (Clockwise from left – Mark, Cameron, Levi, Nikki and Nikita).

He fought through it – his family by his side the whole way – and came out the other side a 10-year-old survivor.

“Then we had a few good years,” Mark said.

But fate didn’t give Levi the happily ever after he deserved.

Just after his 17th birthday, Levi got the news that cancer had taken over his body for a second time. He was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

“The really crappy part about that is that type of cancer was caused by the chemo he had the first time,” Mark said.

“It only happens in around two percent of cases.”

To go head-to-head with AML requires a stem cell transplant.

Allogeneic transplants use stem cells from another person with matching bone marrow.

This is usually a sibling, and sometimes another family member.

But after familial testing came back, it was decided it wasn’t enough of a match to risk it, and so the race was on to find a donor match.

A stranger from overseas was finally found and Levi underwent the transplant in April 2022.

It was a hellish ride after that as Levi tried to heal, all the while waiting to see if his body accepted or rejected the healthy donor cells.

Doctors warned his family on multiple occasions to “be prepared to lose him”. And he almost lost out during a near-death choking experience which saw him back in the ICU for 48 hours.

But Levi refused to go quietly into the night.

In October that year, just six months after his biggest battle yet, he walked triumphantly across the stage at his Year 12 graduation.

“From looking death in the eye, spitting in death’s face and flipping the bird. To fighting through everything that was thrown at him and winning. To say we are proud of him is obvious, but we are in awe of him. His resilience, his humour, his smile, his determination, his spirit, his will to not just survive but thrive,” Mark said.

For a while Levi was allowed to be normal.

His diesel mechanic apprenticeship is on hold until he beats this thing again.

He started an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic, and did as much bush bashing as he could with his purple ‘Unocorn.’

Last year, Levi and his family celebrated his 12-month post-operation milestone, and doctors declared the transplant a success.

“Everything was going along beautifully until early March this year,” Mark said.

The family’s worst fears had come true – Levi had relapsed, and his myeloid dysplasia became full-blown AML once again.

Except this time, the chemotherapy that once held the leukaemia at bay has lost its potency, so the doctors are throwing radiation therapy into the mix.

Levi will need another transplant, and this time, his older brother, Cameron, will be the donor. It’s not ideal – the match isn’t as strong as doctors would like. But it’s the only shot Levi has.

“For him there’s a lot of anger and frustration alongside the fear, trepidation, anxiety,” Mark said.

“He just wants to be out and about attacking life.

“As parents, Nikki and I feel helpless. We’re along with him side by side on this ride, but we can’t ultimately fix it.”

Levi’s apprenticeship is on hold, and his parents are alternating taking days off from work so they can be with him through all his appointments and his surgery which is tentatively booked for June.

On top of all that, they’re trying to keep life as normal as possible for Levi’s younger sister, Nikita.

“This isn’t our first rodeo. There’s a little bit of routine in what we do now,” Mark said.

“And we’re approaching it like we’re gonna win the fight – you’ve got to go into it believing you can win.

“But Levi understands the reality of the situation – if this second transplant doesn’t work, the medical team has no other options.

“The magnitude of it is that he might not come home.”

Mark said his family has been completely transparent about Levi’s journey in the hopes that more people make the decision to become donors.

“We need more people on the bone marrow donor registry, and more people donating blood products,” he said.

“Even if you can’t help Levi, you can absolutely help out someone else.”

Family friend Deb Butler has set up a GoFundMe fundraising page called “Help Levi kick cancer’s butt for the 3rd time” in an effort to take the financial strain off the family as they concentrate on winning this one.

“Dream big, run hard. Eye of the tiger!”

After the hospital, Levi spent an afternoon at his happy place with his sidekick.