It's every parent's worst nightmare - finding out your precious young child is desperately ill.

But sadly for the Trueman family of Turangi, that was the news they received during lockdown level 3 when they found out their son Easton, 3, has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

In Easton's case this relatively common childhood cancer is made worse by the fact that he also has Philadelphia positive ALL, a rare subtype, which makes his cancer more intense and aggressive.

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Family friend Taina Hamilton says Easton became sick during the first week of May, becoming lethargic and having nose bleeds. Then one day he was out for a walk with his mother Natalie when a blood clot came out of his mouth. Natalie took him to the Taupō Hospital emergency department where dad Michael was not allowed to join them.

Only one parent was allowed in with Easton because the country was still in Covid-19 lockdown.

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The doctors did tests and once again Natalie had to attend alone, to be given the worst possible news that her son was very sick.

Taina says not having Michael for support was extremely difficult. When medical staff realised the distress Natalie was in, Michael was then able to come in.

Since then, the family has been backwards and forwards between Starship children's hospital in Auckland as well as hospital visits in Taupō and Rotorua, sometimes even managing a few nights at home before heading back for more hospital appointments and stays.

The Trueman family of Turangi. From left: Easton with dad Michael, mum Natalie with son Eden, daughter Ella.
The Trueman family of Turangi. From left: Easton with dad Michael, mum Natalie with son Eden, daughter Ella.

Easton has had numerous medical procedures including chemotherapy, blood transfusions and lumbar punctures. It is a lot for anybody to handle, especially a preschooler.

Michael, who works in forestry, had to return to work after a month but due to the uncertainty of treatment finished up. Natalie, who is employed at Pihanga Health, has been unable to work while she cares for Easton and the couple's two older children, Ella and Eden.

Taina says the couple has a mortgage and other commitments and on top of the stress of Easton's cancer, the financial pressure has also been difficult.

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So she and other supporters are fundraising for money to help support the family so they can focus on caring for Easton and helping him get better.

"We're fundraising for anything where they see they need the money, whether it's accommodation in Auckland, petrol, food or trying to keep their home running."

Rafting New Zealand is running heavily-discounted fundraising trips on the Tongariro River on July 18 and 19 to support the Trueman family. Photo / File
Rafting New Zealand is running heavily-discounted fundraising trips on the Tongariro River on July 18 and 19 to support the Trueman family. Photo / File

Taina has set up a Givealittle page (go to www.givealittle.co.nz and search 'Easton'). Rafting New Zealand is also running special discounted family trips on the weekend of July 18 and 19 with money raised going towards supporting the family.

The Tongariro White Water Trip, suitable for 10 years upwards is $60 per person and the Tongariro Family Fun trip, for five years upwards is $50 per person. Each spot on the rafts is discounted by more than $100 per person and Rafting New Zealand would like both 42-seat trips to sell out so they can meet their goal of raising $5000.

Photo sales from the day go to the Trueman family too.

Another event, Unite for Easton Bike & Car Run, will be held on Saturday, August 1.

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Taina says the Truemans have been grateful for the support they have received from family, friends and the Turangi community so far.

"They've come home and the gardens are done and the groceries are on the doorstep, and people are helping as much they can.

"Natalie wants to say thank you to the community, she's quite overwhelmed."

To book a trip on the Rafting New Zealand Trueman family fundraising trip, phone 07 386 0352 or email Pianika@raftingnewzealand.com. You can follow Easton's progress on Facebook at 'Easton Trueman's journey to fight Philadelphia Positive ALL'.