Greenvale toddler Marko Magic has endured a lot in the first years of his life.
The two-year-old was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a form of cancer that is made of cells that are found in nerve tissues of the body – in April 2018, at 16-months-old.
His parents, Jelena and Andrija, said they were told the tumor was classified as low risk and would be surgically removed.
Six months later, Marko begin to limp. He was diagnosed with infectious arthritis in his hip and given antibiotics.
He showed no signs of recovery so doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital ordered a MRI and discovered that Marko’s cancer had returned, spreading to his bones and bone marrow.
He was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma.
His parents were told that with the most advanced type of treatment available in Australia, children facing this diagnosis only have a 40-50 per cent five-year survival rate.
Marko recently finished his third round of chemotherapy, and is facing another two or three rounds.
He will also need to have surgery, radiation therapy, a double bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy.
His parents hope the treatment will place him in remission, allowing him to take part in a clinical trial of a neuroblastoma vaccine at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. It will cost the family about $350,000.
They have started a GoFundMe page to raise money.
Mrs Magic has been researching treatments and networking with other families and believes the trial is Marko’s best chance.
She was shocked to find there was little treatment available to Marko in Australia.
“More funding is needed for forgotten cancers like this,” she said.
“It is real and the consequences are devastating. I want to raise awareness and start a conversation about this problem.
“I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something to raise awareness.”
Mrs Magic said the past few months had been a “long and difficult” journey for the family.
“They tell you your child has cancer, and you think he is going to die. Then they tell you it is low risk … but then it is much more serious and is actually life-threatening,” she said,
Mrs Magic gave up her job to become Marko’s full-time carer, while her sister moved from London to Melbourne to help care for their other children, Petar, 7, and Aleska, 4.
“It is not just the child and the parents who are affected; there are siblings and the wider family,” she said.