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Cancer-free today

Harvey Harmon [4] celebrates being free of leukaemia with mother Lexy Harmon. PHOTOS/HELEN HOLT

HELEN HOLT

After two-and-a-half years of cancer treatment, four-year-old Harvey Harmon took his final medication yesterday and “rang the bell”.

After Harvey’s final dose of mercaptopurine [oral chemotherapy], his large family would celebrate with a medieval-themed dress-up party.

Harvey’s mother Lexy Harmon said she could not believe the day had come.

“When I told him, he said, ‘What? So no more chemo? No more medicine? Cool!’

“And now he goes around telling everyone he’s going to be cancer-free, which is the best thing to gloat about.”

Harvey was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia in February 2020.

His diagnosis was a month in the making, with his mother being turned away from the hospital multiple times after doctors said there was nothing wrong with him.

“I had to take time off work because he kept getting a temperature, so I couldn’t take him to daycare.”

Harmon became more assertive when her energetic two-year-old became too tired to walk.

“He couldn’t walk for the whole of Sunday.

“The hospital did an X-ray and a CT, and the blood test last, where he was diagnosed straight away.”

Harvey and his mum were flown to Christchurch and spent two months in hospital, and his father flew in from Australia, where he was working. Harvey was put on a high dosage of drugs.

Harmon said she was in denial for the first two months.

“I knew he was sick, but I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t watch the nurses put the nose-tube in, but after a while, I was the one putting it in.”

Harvey and his family would spend six days at a hospital and 10 days at home. But for some stays, he would not get home for a month at a time.

“I had to take a year off work because I just couldn’t commit to going to the hospital with him every 10 days.”

Harmon said the hardest part for Harvey was losing his hair.

“People said, ‘Oh, it won’t matter. He’s a boy. His hair is already short’, but it really upset him.

“I always used to do his hair, and then one day, he wouldn’t let me touch his head. I noticed his hair had fallen out. He was very self-conscious about having bald patches.

“We were given a grant to buy some hats. We bought him about seven snapbacks.”

When Harvey was diagnosed, he lived in Masterton – part of Wairarapa District Health Board – and was treated in Christchurch. He had since moved with his family to Eketahuna – part of MidCentral DHB – but was treated in Auckland.

Harmon said she had stayed at every Ronald McDonald House in New Zealand and met many families with similar experiences.

His extended family and daycare offered to fundraise through raffles for the first year of Harvey’s treatment.

Harmon said she cried every day out of gratitude.

“I didn’t do any fundraising; it was all them.”

With Harvey now free of cancer, Harmon said she felt an immense sense of relief after a long two-and -a-half years.

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