COHEN Holland-Monsen’s cancer diagnosis came after he never fully recovered from a viral sickness his entire family had in late May this year.
“We all recovered,” Cohen’s mum, Mardi, explained, “except for Cohen who continued to have random days with temperatures and very odd vomiting patterns.”
Now three, Cohen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (PRE B ALL), on June 6, 2021.
“I took him to the doctor as he wasn’t getting better and was told it was just a viral infection,” Mardi said.
“The vomiting became more aggressive over the next couple of days and I knew it was more than a viral infection.”
As Cohen became increasingly ill, Mardi decided she needed a second opinion, and attended the Mildura Base Public Hospital, given it was the only option available at that time.
Lethargic, pale and vomiting, tests revealed Cohen’s hemoglobin levels were at 25 and he had low platelets too.
“Due to being severely anemic they started the blood transfusions quickly and moved us right out the front of the nurses’ station,” Mardi recalled.
“I still had no idea of the severity of it all at this stage.”
The next day the pair were transferred to Intensive Care and Cohen’s dad, Christopher, and Mardi had the heartbreaking news delivered to them.
“‘Your son has leukaemia,’ he said,” Mardi recalled.
“I immediately broke down in tears, we were both in shock at the discovery.”
After losing her brother Jean-Paul to the same type of leukaemia in 1997, Mardi could not believe she was reliving the nightmare.
With an hour to pack before they were flown to Melbourne for further treatment, Cohen was able to bid farewell to two of his brothers, Benji and Remi, but wasn’t able to say goodbye to his oldest sibling, Tashi as there wasn’t enough time.
Only after a few days at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Cohen was officially diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (PRE B ALL), and Mardi said the best news they were given was that is was curable.
“We stayed there for around three weeks while Cohen underwent many blood transfusions, chemotherapy drugs, lumbar punctures and platelets, which he reacted to, scans and steroids,” she said.
“We had good days and bad days where we were both struggling; days with laughter and days of tears.”
“Between August and September we managed to come home to Mildura for two short trips,” Mardi said.
“It was lovely to see Cohen happily playing in his home surrounds with the rest of the family.
“He was temporarily nasal gastric tube free too.
“Saying our goodbyes was very hard as we weren’t sure when we’d see them again.
“We call home most nights but it’s still not the same.”
Discharged now to an isolation unit through Ronald McDonald House, Cohen attends the oncology unit as an outpatient frequently.
Cohen lost his hair in November and Mardi said it was a very emotional day for her with the reality of their current lifestyle fully sinking in.
“Cohen is currently in the delayed intensification stage of his treatment,” she said.
“We’ve had a few setbacks with his levels being too low but he is enduring higher doses of chemo and more frequently.”
Once able to, Cohen will be able to continue part treatment in Mildura, although visits to Melbourne will be monthly and are expected to continue for the next two years.
A Go Fund me has been started to assist Cohen with expenses.
Readers can donate through visiting: https://gofund.me/7a1e0b1d
By ZOEY ANDREWS