Kiwi family headed to the United States to fight son's cancer relapse

A Kiwi family is rushing to the United States to get their son treated for an aggressive form of cancer.

Alyson and Hayden Keeling have started a GiveALittle page to raise money for the treatment, which will see them head to New York next week.

Ms Keeling's two-year-old son Corey was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in March after being taken to A&E with a stomach issue.

The family was supposed to take an air ambulance from Taranaki to Starship as soon as the cancer was discovered, but due to bad weather ended up driving and arriving in Auckland at midnight.

The tumour started in Corey's adrenal glands and made its way into his heart. Within hours he was receiving his first dose of chemotherapy.

"The night that they started chemo we learned that Corey's right atrium was almost 100 percent full of tumour," Ms Keeling told Newshub.

"He was within hours of dying."

Although it was six weeks before anyone could tell, Corey responded well to treatment and his surgery went better than expected.

"In terms of surgery it was the best possible outcome that we could have asked for. The report stated that they got over 90 percent of the tumour," Ms Keeling said.

But before moving onto the next stage of treatment Corey needed an MRI, and his parents were floored by the revelation that he was in even more danger than before.

Not only was there new growth at the original site, but there was another spot of concern on Corey's brain.

"We were just not even expecting an ounce of this relapse. It's taken us back to day one of the emotions that you feel at the beginning of a diagnosis," Ms Keeling said.

"I feel like we're right at the beginning."

The new growths mean the cancer is now classified as a Central Nervous System (CNS) Relapse and can only be treated at two hospitals in the world.

Neither of them are in New Zealand, but one is in the United States, where Corey holds dual citizenship.

Corey's parents are now preparing to leave New Zealand next week and fly him to the United States for treatment at Memorial Sloane Kettering in New York.

"We're going to show up at the hospital and we're just going to hope that the pieces all fall together, there's going to be a bit of running around from me to make sure that everything's sorted," she said.

"But in the end he should be cleared to have health cover in New York to get the treatment that he needs."

Ms Keeling's family lives on the other side of the United States and her husband Hayden's is from Taranaki, so they're leaving behind their support system to get Corey's treatment.

"Being up in Auckland was hard enough and now [we have] to move across the world, it's really just Hayden and I," Ms Keeling said.

"[We're] losing our whole support system and going to New York, one of the biggest cities in the world, to save our son."


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