Community support lifting Gold Coast family dealing with baby Blake’s cancer diagnosis after 12x9cm tumour found

Community support lifting Gold Coast family dealing with baby Blake’s cancer diagnosis after 12x9cm tumour found

By Lauren Paris – Gold Coast Mum
A Gold Coast couple who recently received the heart-breaking news that their baby son has cancer, are blown away by the support being offered by the GC community.

The couple, from Upper Coomera, were told last month that their firstborn, Blake, has a 12cm x 9cm tumour in his abdomen.



The tiny tot, now 11-months-old has started chemotherapy – this week undergoing a gruelling 5 rounds – with treatment to continue for at least another 42 weeks.

The community is rallying behind Bake and his parents Kylie and Chris, with a fundraiser planned for this Thursday 9th June, 2016 in Burleigh Heads – organised by staff from the medical clinic that referred the family to hospital to have scans done.

Blake’s Mum Kylie Neal told Gold Coast Mum.com the tumour was diagnosed on May 6th.

“It was a normal morning at home when Blake was playing and pulled himself up to his activity table, then was suddenly hysterical! 
“He was crying and in a lot of pain. Due to him having reflux I initially thought he was having a flare up, or he is prone to wind. So I tried to help him using the usual techniques and nothing was helping. He cried like that for 20-30 solids minutes. Very unusual for him,” Kylie said.






“Then, his breathing changed, he wasn't breathing properly, he went pale, floppy, unresponsive. Like he was passing out. I called the ambulance and they came and checked his vital signs. By the time they had got there Blake's pain had passed and he was back to normal again.

"I then had an appointment with Shahn at Health 1st for Kids in Robina for that afternoon. We had seen Shahn before about my concerns with Blake's increasing pain/’reflux’ issues. She was concerned when I told her what had happened and wrote me a letter to go to the [Emergency Department] at Robina Hospital. 

"We went to the hospital and [during] the scans, they found a large 9cm x 12cm Rhabdomyosarcoma in Blake's abdomen. That episode he had that morning was due to pain from the massive tumour. We were told then and there to go to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.”

Kylie said she had seen countless GP's and child health nurses and had “paid to see a private paediatric gastroenterologist only one month prior to the tumour being found”.


“[I]was always fobbed off with the cause of his pain being ‘reflux’ and that he would grow out of it,” she said.

“If it weren't for my appointment with Shahn that day a few weeks ago we may not have found Blake's tumour when we did. I don't know how to thank you but just know that I'll always be eternally grateful,” Kylie wrote to Health 1st for Kids on the fundraiser Facebook page.

Shahn Horrocks Emergency/Paediatric NP and Co-director of Health 1st for Kids, who is arranging the fundraiser event, told Gold Coast Mum.com that on the day Blake was admitted to hospital, “he was a beautiful smiling baby boy who looked generally well but on this particular day when he presented we also knew something wasn't right”.





“I assessed Blake and on this history knew he needed imaging as I was considering either a surgical cause or intra-abdominal pathology so I sent him immediately to the local Emergency department for an ultrasound. 
It was then that the 9x12cm rhabdomyosacroma was found - he was then immediately transferred to Lady Cilento children's hospital where further testing confirmed the diagnosis of the malignant tumour. 
This was devastating for this beautiful young family. Blake is Kylie & Chris' only child, they are supported by family and close friends. The Health 1st for Kids Team are trying to help in any way we can.”

“Blake is bound for 42weeks of chemotherapy - almost the length of his little life. Prognosis of this particular tumour is good however a lot can happen in 42weeks and infections are a major concern. He has already had 1x admission for neutropenia and fevers needing treatment with antibiotics.

“We are hoping funds raised can help with travel expenses, accommodation in Brisbane and generally keeping themselves afloat. Dad has had to return back to work so Kylie will have to endure some chemo days by herself.”

Blake is 4 weeks in to his treatment plan of 42 weeks. And is being looked after by Dr Wayne Nicchols of the Oncology team at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

“Blake can have some of his chemo as an outpatient which allows us to come home some weeks. Although other chemo treatment requires us to stay in hospital – for example [this week] we are staying in for 5 days as he has chemo every day for 5 days,” Kylie said.

“Although, we have been told to expect his treatment to take a year. It is early days as yet. He has already had a biopsy, bone marrow aspiration from his hip, a port inserted into his chest as well as countless tests/scans and rounds of chemo therapy. His treatment will also require surgery to remove the tumour and radiation as well as chemo,” Kylie said.

Blake in happier times.


Kylie said it has been an extremely hard time for the family - emotionally, financially, and mentally.
“I was just about to go back to work in July. My maternity leave was finishing up, [and] has since ended so we are down to one income now. Chris has been able to take some time off work, so we've been able to go to the appointments together for now. His work have been really supportive but he won't always be able to come with us to Brisbane as he is supporting us financially,” Kylie said.

“I feel like the financial strain is just about to hit us now that my maternity pay has recently stopped. I am concerned how we are going to stay afloat on one income now with the added pressure of Blake's medical costs, petrol, food at the hospital, bills etc. financial stress along with the stress and anxiety we have about Blake being so sick is really taking its toll on us as we try to remain strong for Blake, some days it is very hard.”




“Girls Night Out for Blake”
Thursday 9th June, 2016
Justin Lane Pizzeria and Bar, Burleigh Heads.
Tickets: $60 (includes dinner, welcome drink on arrival and amazing luck door prizes/ raffles.)
All proceeds will go to Blake’s family to help them with the costs involved in Blake’s chemotherapy and care.

Event details/ to book:
07 5580 9603
reception@health1stforkids.com.au
(This is the correct email address as the one listed on the brochure is incorrect)

To donate (almost $8000 has been raised so far), please visit:
https://www.mycause.com.au/page/125922/blake-neal

 To follow Blake's journey, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/BlakesDiary



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Review: Indoor skydiving on the Gold Coast with iFly

Review: Indoor skydiving on the Gold Coast with iFly

By Lauren - Gold Coast Mum





Have you ever been skydiving?
I haven’t. And I have no desire to do so either.

My husband and a bunch of his best mates jumped out of a plane in Sydney the DAY BEFORE our wedding day nine years ago. 

The day before? I know…right!?

It was supposed to take place as part of the Buck’s Weekend celebrations a few weeks before, but the weather wasn’t suitable so they had to postpone. And the only available date for all the guys to do it was the day before our wedding (as if we didn’t have enough to do. Oh and the fear of actually having my fiancé survive and actually make it to the wedding in one piece).

So while jumping out of a plane has never been on my to do list (I’ll stick with Shotover Jet in Queenstown, New Zealand, climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sea-canoeing through caves in Thailand and Italy, and abseiling down huge cliffs, among other exciting activities I have ticket off), the flying aspect is certainly something I was keen to experience.

So, recently I did something wild and crazy – but also safe and fabulous!
And best of all; had my 6-year-old daughter and my mother (aged in her early-fifties) take part.

We did INDOOR SKYDIVING! 

Right here in Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia – a new family-friendly Gold Coast activity by iFly (also available in Penrith, NSW).


Indoor Skydive Australia Group Limited (ISA Group) was founded by two ex-SAS soldiers to bring the joy of simulated flight to the region.

The specially constructed vertical wind tunnels include a flight chamber which allows individuals or groups to experience the free fall experience usually felt when skydiving  (and fly within the tunnel and perform aerobatic manoeuvres in a safe and controlled environment).
Indoor Skydiving facilities are used by tourists, enthusiast and the military (including the Australian Military) and active skydivers.

What a treat it was!
It was an awesome experience without putting your life on the line by jumping out of a plane.
It was as close to skydiving as I ever plan get!

After signing in, the instructor took us to a presentation room where we watched a short instruction video and practiced the hand signals we might need to know – for example if, during the ‘jump’, the instructor needs to tell you when to:
* Relax
* Bend your legs
* Straighten your legs
* Chin up




After getting suited up (complete with ear plugs, helmet and safety glasses), and getting some photos taken, we were taken over to the see-through cylinder where it all happens.

We were trying SO HARD to smile. The goggles made it difficult, lol.

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Seriously, we were trying SO HARD to smile, but the goggles made it difficult, lol.


Our family and friends and other spectators could easily watch and take photos.

Once in the chamber, we took a seat and then the instructor took me in to start my turn.

To be honest, I was absolutely crapping myself but put on a brave face as Miss 6 was watching on and I didn’t want her to be deterred at all.
Once I entered the wind tunnel, with the instructor holding on to me at all times, I was off and racing.
For 50 seconds, I got to experience the thrill of free-falling!


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The kids were watching through the see-through cylinder and I was pulling faces/ intentionally opening my mouth so they could laugh at my cheeks blubbering in the wind (and drool leaking out, lol).



I was pulling faces/ intentionally opening my mouth so the kids could laugh at my cheeks blubbering in the wind (and drool leaking out, lol).

After my thrilling ride, it was my Mum’s turn.

I was in hysterics! Mum had always wanted to sky dive, but hasn’t yet, so was super excited to be able to try out indoor skydiving with iFly.




Miss 6 and I were laughing as was ‘Nan’ who was having a great time.

It was then Miss 6’s turn.
She was hesitant at first so the kind instructor guided her into the wind tunnel to show her how safe it was and familiarise her with the surroundings. 

As he did that, the control operator – who sits just outside of the wind tunnel, but within the cylinder – applied the wind pressure so Miss 6 could gently ease into the experience.

Soon, she was comfortable and she was experiencing the full free-falling experience.

Offering Miss 6 encouragement and the thumbs up for being such a daredevil.



When her 50 second ride was finished, she came out of the wind tunnel excited and proud that she had done it and was looking forward to her second turn.



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Then we went around again. I had my second 50-second turn, then Mum, then Miss 6.

As our confidence grew, we spent more time free-falling (and where needed, the instructor could hold on to us - even just our shoe if needed - to help direct us/ ensure we didn’t face plant the sides).

The staff were all fantastic – super helpful and kind. 
Our instructor was so friendly and super patient – especially responding to questions like this from my Mum:
“What happens if there’s a power outage while I’m in there? Will I suddenly crash to the ground and fall through the grate like mince in a mincer?” ;-)
The easy and high-tech check-in was impressive (legal documents regarding safety etc at check in.)

When we had completed our 'flights' we headed back to the counter to return our suits and equipment (goggles etc).
We viewed the professional videos of our experience on large screen TVs and also got to check out all of the professional photos available for purchase.




It was a good giggle watching ourselves on the screens and re-living the moments.






Indoor skydiving is an experience I would definitely recommend!

According to iFly, people aged from 3- 103 can take part!

My Nanna recently turned 80 and we suggested she might like to do it to celebrate this birthday milestone, but she needs a bit more convincing, lol. ;-)



iFly is a fabulous addition to the Gold Coast – especially family-friendly indoor activities for tourists, locals and even something to keep teenagers entertained and engaged.  
iFly also does birthday party packages.
This is also a cool option if you ever need something to do on a rainy day on the Gold Coast, or a way to entertain visitors from out of town!


We did the beginner package ($99 per person for two 50 second rides) but there are other packages where you can let loose and fly higher up within the cylinder and do all sorts of amazing tricks.

The wind tunnel can be seen from street level, so it’s a hoot watching other people taking part!
If you're visiting Surfers Paradise, be sure to check it out! 


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Video: Look what we just did!

Would you try indoor skydiving?

Disclaimer: Gold Coast Mum was a guest of iFly for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

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