Rallying behind Romeos
MOTHER'S instinct prompted Vanessa Romeo to follow up on an injury her son David, 12, sustained from a fall at their Severnlea home in late February.
"David knocked his elbow and eventually, it started to swell," Ms Romeo said.
"I asked the doctor for an x-ray. They found like a lesion in the bone."
Back at the local surgery an hour after the x-ray, Ms Romeo said doctors and specialists had begun discussing the potential seriousness of the findings.
A bone biopsy and a subsequent MRI revealed what's known as Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer typically found in teenage growth.
"We found out on February 28," said Ms Romeo, who works in administration at Stanthorpe Hospital.
"I'll remember that date forever."
Her husband, Tony, a local grower, agreed that their son was "handing it well".
"David asked tonnes of questions," Ms Romeo said.
"He wanted to know what would happen next, and then next. He really interrogated the doctor."
David, a Year 7 student at St Joseph's School, has begun a nine-month regimen of chemotherapy in Queensland Children's Hospital, Brisbane.
His mother remains with him and his father commutes.
"I've been trying to run a farm from Brisbane," Mr Romeo said.
St Joseph's students have bolstered David's spirits with hand-drawn pictures of motorcycles and tractors, as well as messages of support, stories and jokes.
Before the Easter holiday break, David's Year 7 cohort organised a fundraiser of fruit and vegetables, and the school's recent trivia night winners donated their prize to the Romeo family.
Ms Romeo said the support, as well as practical help from locals on the farm, the many calls, baked meals, sweets and offers of prayers had touched them all.
"We're grateful for all the support," she said.
"So many people want to help David out and really care for him."
The couple enjoyed a rare day at home on April 7, spending time with youngest son, Joey, and extended family.
They face the future with optimism. David will have an operation in June for a permanent titanium elbow joint.
"It definitely helps, knowing people are caring for us," Ms Romeo said.
"Our world's been turned upside down but we must stay strong for David."
A local cancer support group, and close friends and family, have set May 25 for a high tea fundraiser at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism.
Tickets are available from Gracious Giving in Maryland St. Call 46814700.