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Battling dad’s baby surprise

Nick Perkins, 34, in Singapore earlier this month after he had finished the first ‘bag’ of chemotherapy. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


By Hayley Gastmeier

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News of a baby girl on the way is helping a Carterton father face challenging medical treatments – half a world away from his family.

Nick Perkins, an IT technician, is in Singapore undergoing stem cell treatment in a bid to halt the progression of Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative disorder, which he was diagnosed with in 2014.

His wife, Danielle, remains in Carterton caring for their two young boys – Thomas, 5, and Lachlan, 3 – who can’t entirely comprehend why their father is away from home.

She says news that she is expecting a baby girl has given the family something positive and exciting to focus on during “an emotionally stressful time”.

For the last two weeks Mr Perkins has been given doses of chemotherapy and injections that allow his stem cells to multiply.

Today, the 34-year-old is due to have his stem cells harvested, with the transplant scheduled for mid-May.

He is undergoing a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation involving stem cells found in bone marrow and blood, which can produce the cells that make up the blood and immune system.

As part of the process, Mr Perkins would be facing a “triple strength” dose of chemotherapy.

Mrs Perkins said her husband’s three-month treatment was “risky”, and the procedure had recently been altered following a death earlier this year.

She accompanied her husband to Singapore on April 9, and the couple were able to enjoy a few days of sight-seeing, including “Nick’s highlight of holding a snake”, before the treatment began.

Mr Perkins now has his father by his side, supporting him through the challenges.

Mrs Perkins said no amount of planning could have prepared the family for how tough being apart would be at such a hard time.

“It has been an incredibly emotional ride and there have been some pretty teary Skype calls back and forth.”

She said Thomas had a better understanding of the situation than Lachlan, who knew his father was “getting his brain fixed” but couldn’t quite comprehend why he was so far away.

“I don’t think they really grasp how long it’s going to be, but I think they are coping pretty well overall.”

She said one thing that had helped keep Mr Perkin’s in high spirits while overseas was news that he would father a baby girl, before the year was out.

“That was a nice little surprise.”

Mrs Perkins, a teacher at Bell Street Early Learning Centre in Featherston, said her work had been “really awesome” in supporting them throughout the whole ordeal.

She was also thankful to the many generous people who donated to the Givealittle page ‘Kicking MS in the Nick of Time’, with the funds covering the $120,000 treatment price tag, and contributing to the associated flights and accommodation.

Mrs Perkins said despite the “what ifs” that occupied her mind, her husband stood a good chance of having a positive response to the treatment.

“Nick’s still reasonably mobile and fit and healthy, so [medical professionals have] told us he’s pretty much an ideal candidate for it.”

Due to the associated risks and complications, opting for the treatment had been a hard decision for the couple to make.

After weighing up the pros and cons, they decided acting sooner rather than later would give Mr Perkins the best chance of being able to return to a normal life.




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