There are few silver linings when a child is unwell, but the Gale family of Alexandra knows how much support they have from their local community after youngest son, Maddox, was diagnosed with cancer.
Friends, family and complete strangers have rallied for the family, donating prizes and bidding in an auction at the Alexandra District Club, cropping their hair for the cause, renovating the family’s back yard and donating to a givealittle page.
Maddox’s mother, Catherine Gale, said it was a huge shock when Maddox was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, just two weeks after his 9th birthday
‘‘Everything made sense then,’’ Mrs Gale said. ‘‘He just had no energy and didn’t want to do things.’’
She said someone had told her on the auction night, ‘‘if you’re going to have a tragedy, it’s best to be in a small town’’.
‘‘We live in the best community,’’ said her husband, Darryn Gale.
Since Maddox was diagnosed, he and his mum have spent most of their time in Christchurch, where he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation therapy to fight the cancer.
‘‘They didn’t give percentages,’’ Mrs Gale said. ‘‘All they ever really said was that it was rhabdomyosarcoma and this is what we are going to hit it with, and it is generally very successful.’’
The couple said their son was ‘‘a superstar’’, having completed 28 rounds of radiation therapy.
At home in Alexandra last week for only the second time since his diagnosis, Maddox played with his older brothers, William (14) and Dylan (16), who both shaved their heads during a fundraiser auction at the Alexandra District Club last month. Dylan’s friend Jaedyn McKenzie (15) started the trend by offering to lose his much-loved mullet for the cause.
Auction co-organiser Sonia Taylor-van-den-Yssel said more than $38,000 was raised.
Mrs Gale said the generosity of the Alexandra community ‘‘just blew us away’’.
‘‘We just wanted to thank every single business, the club and everyone who was involved with making the auction night come together.’’
Maddox’s aunt, Renee Gale, also set up a givealittle page which had raised $16,500 over four months.
‘‘It means we don’t have to stress about finances,’’ she said.
Friends and a local company even renovated the family’s back yard as a surprise.
Mrs Gale and Maddox returned to Christchurch on Monday, for two more rounds of chemotherapy before another MRI scan and an oncologist assessment.
Even with the best of news, Maddox would still require six months of maintenance chemotherapy, but his parents hope he can spend most of his time home with friends, family, and a community filled with well›wishers.