Jacob's home for Christmas

ALL Jacob Cooper wanted for Christmas was to wake up at home with his family.

The 11-year-old had spent about 100 days in hospital since he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

And it wasn’t until 9.30pm on Christmas Eve that he and his family received the blood test results that made his wish come true.

‘‘We were praying all day that he would get the nod,’’ his father Liam said yesterday.

‘‘To have him wake up at home with us this morning was the best Christmas present ever.’’

Jacob  was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in August.

Only three in 100 children diagnosed with leukaemia will have this type, which is caused by the presence of a chromosome abnormality called Philadelphia.

Where once children with this form would have had a poor prognosis, drug advances in the past five years mean doctors have given Jacob an 80per cent chance of survival.

The drugs target the specific protein released by the Philadelphia chromosome, and when combined with chemotherapy  have proved effective.

Jacob still has a long road ahead, with about two years of chemotherapy in front of him.

His doctor, paediatric oncologist Dr Frank Alvaro said the second year was expected to be less severe than the first.

‘‘Chances of cure are now much, much higher than it would be otherwise,’’ he said.

About 80 children are diagnosed with leukaemia each year in Australia and while the number diagnosed remains stable, treatments and prognosis have improved dramatically.

Susan Cooper said her son had  had lots of chemotherapy and bone biopsies.

Jacob spent yesterday with his immediate family at their home in Redhead.

He has to return to hospital for a check-up on Thursday. 

If he remains stable his stay at home could extend for two weeks.

Jacob may also have a chance to catch up with his school friends, but it might have to be at a distance because his immune system is still weak.

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