Michael Thackray is a popular boy in the Whyalla community. He is 19 years old, works several jobs including one at Dominos, and is described by his parents as ‘a very likeable lad’.
But unfortunately Michael now has to face life’s greatest challenge. He’s been diagnosed with a synovial sarcoma – a rare form of cancer which occurs primarily in the extremities of the arms or legs.
It started with a pain in his leg. Michael and his family then went to a doctor, who ran a series of tests including x-rays, MRIs and ultrasounds, and diagnosed him.
The tumor is so big that if it was operated on in its current state, Michael would lose his entire leg. Due to that fact, it was necessary for him to undergo chemotherapy first.
However the family were then told that the type of chemotherapy required to treat Michael’s cancer is so high risk that it is not available at either the Whyalla or Port Augusta Hospital.
So Michael and his family had to make a series of long trips to Adelaide every three weeks for five to six days for chemotherapy.
Meanwhile Michael’s mother Tarnya Elsby says the costs of the constant trips to Adelaide are stacking up.
“We do get our petrol re-funded, but when you’re in Adelaide for five to six days the costs go beyond just petrol. Staying at a hotel and buying food is really expensive,” she said.
“We have also had to pay for MRIs, which has taken a toll. My husband doesn’t work, I work at Breeze Bistro and have a second job cleaning so it has been hard.”
Michael has three more rounds of chemotherapy to go, in that time the tumor will be monitored to see if it shrinks. If it does shrink, he will have an operation to remove what’s left of the tumor.
“The only problem is that this type of tumor doesn’t always respond to chemotherapy. Because the tumor is so volatile, once they start playing with it it’s possible that it will start growing and spread,” Ms Elsby said.
“We’re hoping that doesn’t happen.”
So far Ms Elsby said the community support for the family had been very positive, saying ‘everyone has words of encouragement’. YMCA are currently running a collection tin while Edward John Eyre High School are organising a fundraiser for Michael.
If you would like to make donation to the family, head to their GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/5hu6f8o.