The Basedens have been to hell and back as little Jack battled a rare form of leukaemia. The family tells Chloe Booker they are thankful for his recovery and for all the support they have received from the community.
FOR Jack Baseden’s parents, to see him run, play and laugh is nothing less than a miracle.
Little more than a year-and-a-half ago, his mother Melissa took him to Albury hospital with bruising and there began their nightmare.
That same day in June 2012 they were whisked to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital by plane.
The next day, Jack, then aged 15 months, began chemotherapy.
Mrs Baseden and her husband Darren, of Balldale, were told Jack had T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia — a difficult-to-treat form of the blood cancer — and it had spread to infect 94 per cent of his bone marrow.
It was an extremely bad case and the little boy’s chances of recovery were low.
But just two weeks ago Jack was given the all clear by his doctors.
“You think, ‘how good’s this’, he’s playing and laughing and you’ve been though all of this,” Mrs Baseden said from their family home yesterday.
“Just to see him interacting, it’s amazing.”
Until two weeks ago, Jack had been kept in isolation at home in case he caught a cold that would see his progress stall.
Mrs Baseden said she was excited, but also apprehensive at news he was free to go out in public.
“To now all of a sudden say go out into the big bad world, even though we’re at the other end, there’s still fear,” she said.
“He could relapse at any time — nothing’s guaranteed.”
Yesterday, Jack, who turns three in March, played with his twin sister, Ruby, seemingly oblivious to how sick he once was.
“He’s free to be a little boy,” Mrs Baseden said.
It’s a long way from the harrowing ordeal that began in June 2012, when Jack underwent his first 28-day round of chemotherapy.
After that treatment, 26 per cent of Jack’s bone marrow was still affected and he was placed on a US drug previously used to treat relapse patients.
His beautiful blond curly locks were soon gone.
Jack and his parents spent the next four months at Ronald McDonald House, while Ruby and elder sister, Ellie, then 12, were looked after by friends and family.
“I remember previously watching all the sick kids on the Good Friday Appeal, thinking that would never be me,” Mrs Baseden said.
“Then you think, ‘far out, I’m one of them, I’m one of those families I’d cry over’.”
In October 2012, Jack was in remission, spending one week at home and one week in hospital undergoing chemotherapy. But the worst of his ordeal was still to come.
After a bone marrow transplant in February last year, Jack developed a liver disease that saw his stomach bloat to a circumference of 69 centimetres.
Mrs Baseden had thought Jack’s recovery from the transplant would be easier.
Instead, the little boy would spend the next few months in an isolation ward on the brink of death.
“If he had picked up a bug from going out of the room, he’d probably die,” Mrs Baseden said.
“He had nothing left to fight it with.
“He was bottom of the barrel.
“The next step was death.
“I just sat there watching him, waiting to see if he would take his last breath.”
Mrs Baseden said Jack had been in enormous pain.
“He was just laying there screaming day and night,” she said.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m going to have to plan a funeral soon. I don’t think he’s going to make it’.”
Last April, Jack started to improve and Mrs Baseden said seeing him smile again had been an incredible boost for her and her husband.
In May, Jack was home again, but he returned to hospital for a month in July with a viral infection.
The little boy’s illness has taken a heavy toll on the Baseden family.
At its worst, Mrs Baseden said she had told herself to “suck it up” and go through the motions.
“It wasn’t until later that it hit me, it all caught up,” she said.
“I was just crying. I couldn’t function.”
Mrs Baseden said her daughters had struggled without their mother and Mr Baseden, a truck driver, said spending time alone in his semi-trailer was torturous.
“A lot of the time, I just couldn’t deal with it,” he said.
The Basedens said it was with the help of each other and their community they were able to get through.
“We were a rock for each other,” Mrs Baseden said.
She said people they had never met rang to offer money to help pay their bills and dropped off gifts at their back door, while friends and family held a fund-raiser and helped with their daily needs.
“There are just not enough words in the English dictionary to put forward how thankful you are,” Mrs Baseden said.