Eli is fighting fit despite cancer stealing his kidney
IF Eli Jeffcoat could write a letter to the disease inside him, it might read something like this.
"Dear cancer. You will not win and you will not destroy my life. Kind regards, the courageous kid from the Sunshine Coast."
The five-year-old Maleny lad is full of energy despite being diagnosed with Wilms tumour of the kidney at the age of two.
Also known as nephroblastoma, the disease is the most common type of kidney tumour in children and the tumours are usually pretty big before anyone knows something is wrong..
Eli's mother Kim found a strange lump in her son's belly in November of 2014.
"I was changing his nappy and I noticed he had a lump in his stomach," she said.
"It was quite big - about two inches (5cm) wide.
"I thought it was strange so I took him to the doctors."
The doctor sent Eli and Kim to Nambour General Hospital for scans,.
There was shock as the imaging specialists realised they could not see one of his kidneys.
"They said he had a tumour and he needed to go to Brisbane straight away for treatment," Kim said.
It wasn't long before the lad was in a bed at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where he went through six weeks of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour.
Once the tumour was small enough, doctors were able to surgically remove it, as well as the affected kidney and an adrenal gland that the tumour had attached itself to.
Leaving father Simon to take care of things back home, Eli and Kim stayed in Brisbane until he finished all of his chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Eli is now on the mend but he is not quite out of the woods.
He has three-monthly check-ups, but Kim said doctors were confident the cancer would not return.
"He's a fiery little redhead," Kim said.
"The first week was the most torturous because we were thinking about every possibility.
"But within a few days of being in hospital we realised we were very lucky because the doctors knew how to treat the tumour, they knew the medications he needed."
Eli is one of 1931 Sunshine Coast and Gympie residents treated at Lady Cilento last financial year.
The youngster is taking on a big challenge, helping to promote the annual Channel Nine Telethon, supporting the Children's Hospital Foundation on Saturday (November 18).
The appeal aims to raise $11 million.
As well as supporting patients at LCCH, money raised during the telethon pays for vital medical equipment, research and a range of medical services at Lady Cilento and throughout regional Queensland and Northern NSW.
"The LCCH nurses and doctors were amazing and Eli really loved the Children's Hospital Foundation volunteers and bedside play," Kim said.
"Until you are in that situation you don't realise how much a small donation helps."
Tune in to TV to dial up support for sick kids
THIS year's Channel Nine Telethon organisers hope to dial up $11 million of support for our sick kids.
The star-studded annual event will be broadcast across Queensland and Northern NSW on Saturday (November 18).
It raises money for the Children's Hospital Foundation.
The foundation provides vital support for young patients attending Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, 60 per cent of whom come from regional Queensland and Northern NSW.
The telethon has raised about $32 million since 2014.
That money has been invested in life-saving medical research, vital pediatric equipment and for "comfort and entertainment" services for ill children and their families.
The foundation has committed $5 million to fund research into priority health areas including cystic fibrosis, childhood nutrition and brain cancer.
"The survival rates for brain cancer have not improved during the past 30 years and only 20 per cent of children with the disease will survive," foundation CEO Rosie Simpson said.
"And if they do survive, they face really chronic health issues throughout their lives."
The foundation offers a significant bright spot in the lives of children who stay at Lady Cilento.
It offers the in-house Juiced TV where kids get to star in their own television show.
It also provides the fun Clown Doctors, volunteers who entertain children with books, movies and games so parents can take a break, the Cuddle Carers program for babies, music therapy, pet therapy, special events and hospital visits by famous people.
"We also help pay for clothes for the kids, we offer travel grants for families to join their child in hospital and we fund the social work program so the families are supported," Ms Simpson said.
"The idea is to try to ensure the children have as normal a time as possible while they are in hospital."
The telethon starts at 7pm on Saturday and there will be a special documentary on the Lady Cilento and its patients from 5pm.
The entertainment line-up includes Leo Sayer, Pseudo Echo, The Voice 2017 winner Judah Kelly, Eurovision star Dami Im and rock band Dragon.- NewsRegional
Donate at 9telethon.com.au or by phoning 1800 909 900.