Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Alex was home in Tauranga for Christmas

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Claudia, Alex and Matthew with Nina Carratu at their home in Tauranga. Photo/George Novak
Claudia, Alex and Matthew with Nina Carratu at their home in Tauranga. Photo/George Novak

Matthew Carratu had one wish last year, for his 6-year-old son to be home in time for Christmas, and it came true.

In July, 2015 his son Alex was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma and endured four rounds of intense chemotherapy after a 5kg tumour was found in his belly.

At the same time Mr Carratu juggled work, looked after his four other children and drove to Starship Hospital in Auckland on weekends to visit Alex and his pregnant wife Claudia who stayed with him in hospital.

Doctors said if the chemotherapy did not work and tumour cells were still found in Alex, he would need another five rounds of treatment.

In between Alex's third and fourth rounds of chemotherapy a CAT scan showed there was something which did not belong in a little body.

"His tumour was very fast growing but it had shrunk significantly from a 5kg mass but down to something showing a shadow bigger than they wanted it to be," Mr Carratu said.

Read more: Boy battling aggressive cancer - and winning

Doctors organised a PET scan but the results were inconclusive and a diagnosis was not made on the "shadow".

Starship surgeons then found the "shadow" was in fact scar tissue which had closed up a section of his bowel.

"They found what was left of the tumour and it was all dead, it was a great lump of scar tissue. The tumour wasn't alive. Which was the complete response the doctors were after," Mr Carratu said.

Alex's last round of chemotherapy went from the end of November to early December last year which meant he was home in Tauranga for Christmas, and spoilt rotten.

"We were very, very, very happy," Mr Carratu said.

However, another scan showed a further shadow behind Alex's bladder.

The shadow has not changed in size and Alex will be monitored by doctors for five years in the hope it was more scar tissue. In the meantime time Alex is still enjoying being home in Tauranga with his new baby sister Nina.

Six-year-old Alex Carratu with his baby sister Nina, who was born New Year's Day. Photo/George Novak
Six-year-old Alex Carratu with his baby sister Nina, who was born New Year's Day. Photo/George Novak

- Bay of Plenty Times

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