Alisha Konig has had to deal with some pretty scary things in the past few years since her son William was first diagnosed with cancer.
Confronting – and trying to come to terms with – her own child’s mortality as he suffers through month upon month of brutal treatment for his now relapsed stage three neuroblastoma has been the hardest of them all.
The devoted mum is now on a mission to give William as many experiences as she can “so he can live his best life” and Alisha has been blown away by the support she’s received from the community since putting her message out there on social media.
As you’d imagine, the kinds of items on an eight-year-old’s bucket list are heartbreakingly small – theme parks, meeting penguins and riding in a fancy car.
The “mad Rabbitohs fan” was lucky enough to receive a personalised message from players Damien Cook and Latrell Mitchell, as well as merchandise from the club.
He’d hoped to meet a couple of players, but it wasn’t possible mid-season.
Alisha has also been contacted by the Canberra Reptile Park and Sydney Aquarium to organise experiences and a day trip to Luna Park is scheduled along with a couple of other trips to venues in NSW which have to stay under wraps for now.
“Other than that, he’s a typical, crazy child. He’s obsessed with animals and superheroes and wants to have a super hero birthday,” she said.
“He also wants to ride in what he calls a ‘race car’ but is really just a fancy car.”
William’s biggest dream is to go to Queensland and visit all the theme parks – something the family had intended to do for Scott and Alisha’s honeymoon.
But when William relapsed earlier this year with a tumour found in his kidneys, that wedding was replaced with an elopement instead.
And getting him there isn’t just a struggle financially for the family who are now into their third year of managing frequent trips to Sydney for his treatment.
Alisha has had to quit her job and her husband has taken repeated periods of leave without pay as they juggle caring responsibilities for multiple kids and manage months of being interstate and separated.
The brave battler has just completed his latest round of therapy at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney which went much better than expected.
Early next month, William will undergo a series of major scans and following this, he may need to undergo a major surgery and three more months of immunotherapy.
Previously, they’d been led to believe there would be no more treatment after this round. This uncertainty is something Alisha has found tricky to deal with.
It also makes it impossible to make longer term plans or even to schedule that much desired Queensland holiday.
“It’s hard because we feel like we aren’t kept in the loop and we aren’t able to participate in those decisions,” she said.
“We think we will tell them where to stick it if they call for more treatment around Christmas time.”
The dilemma facing Alisha and Scott is impossible.
“If we can give William some amazing experiences and he can live his best life, isn’t that better than keeping him in hospital for treatment that potentially won’t work?” Alisha questioned.
“That’s our outlook … but reaching that decision was incredibly hard.
“I don’t think anyone thinks about discussing their child’s mortality, but when he relapsed that conversation had to be had.”
Scott and Alisha had been warned a relapse would carry significantly higher risks than the first bout of cancer.
Now, the pair’s only wish is that William is happy and able to be himself – something he isn’t when undergoing the incredibly brutal immunotherapy treatment.
“I want him to have those high-quality experiences – not to be chained to a hospital bed undergoing the most evil treatment I have ever seen,” Alisha said.