By CYDONEE MARDON April 19, 2013, 10:59 p.m.
Thanks ILLAWARRA MERCURY! THANKS CYDONEE!
Dexter Heffernan had a rough start to life but it was the routine 12-month check-up that broke his parents' hearts.
Lenice and Andrew Heffernan were ready for some plain sailing after a difficult year dealing with complications from their baby's premature birth but things were about to get much worse.
They discovered Dexter had liver cancer.
What followed was a nightmarish blur of biopsies, surgery, infections, chemotherapy and plenty of tears as Dexter faced one challenge after another on his road to recovery.
"Dexter had surgery in June 2012, which went to plan but unfortunately, his recovery did not," Mrs Heffernan, from Kiama Downs, said yesterday.
"We didn't realise that Dexter was allergic to the pain medication he was given and he stopped breathing. He needed to be resuscitated twice in one day, which was terrifying.
"After the first round of chemotherapy, Dexter's hair fell out in chunks and our hearts broke with every strand. We took him to a local barber and had his head shaved. He now looked like a cancer patient with his beautiful eyelashes and eyebrows pretty much gone."
Almost a year later and Dexter, who is almost two, has been given the all-clear.
His hair is coming back and, to the joy of his parents, so are his energy levels.
To mark his return to health, Dexter's friends and family have formed a team for the Kiama Relay For Life called "Love Dexter".
"This is our first Relay For Life event and we are so excited," Mrs Heffernan said. "We are especially excited about the Survivors and Carers Walk because we will be surrounded by people who have been through a similar experience."
The team's original goal was to raise $2000 - "but I think we will have to raise that target as we have had such tremendous support from the Kiama community".
Cancer Council NSW community relations co-ordinator Terry Deegan said funds from the Relay for Life on May 4 and 5 would go towards funding research, support and information for local people affected by cancer.
For information call 4223 0200 or visit www.relayforlife.com.au.