Gold Coast families dealing with the life-altering struggle of having a sick child in hospital are being supported by the local not-for-profit organisation, Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, through its Scrub Up September™ fundraiser.
Held in September each year, Scrub Up September raises vital funds to support children in hospital with serious illnesses and life-threatening emergencies – young patients like five-year-old Chase Hoogsteden who is battling leukaemia.
Gold Coast Hospital Foundation CEO Ben Cox said the local community is being urged to get involved in September to help sick kids in Gold Coast public hospitals.
“We encourage individuals, schools, businesses and organisations to buy a scrub hat or other merchandise, donate to Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, or register to fundraise as part of Scrub Up September,” Mr Cox said.
“With our community’s support, funds raised during Scrub Up September will give the sickest and most vulnerable children, like Chase, better patient care, early diagnosis, enhanced treatment options and family support.”
Just four days before Chase’s leukaemia diagnosis, his parents, Tatum and Billy Hoogsteden, had told Chase and his brother they were going to be big brothers.
After trying for another baby for some time, the Hoogsteden family were incredibly happy and excited about becoming a family of five.
“We were a normal, happy, healthy family with not the slightest clue of what the future had in store for us,” Tatum said.
Tatum attended a local doctor with Chase as a precaution after she discovered a lump on his neck. The doctor asked questions about Chase’s weight and night sweats, and suggested he was concerned about lymphoma.
Tatum remembers almost laughing it off.
“Chase was fine. He was not sick. He was energetic and had even run a cross-country event the previous weekend,” she said.
After completing the requested ultrasound and blood tests, the following Tuesday the family were told by the doctor to pack their bags and head straight to Gold Coast University Hospital.
It was that night when Tatum and Billy were given the devastating news that Chase had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and needed to begin intensive treatment immediately.
For the next five weeks, because of the COVID-19 restrictions, only one parent could stay with Chase at a time. Billy and Tatum, striving to keep their family together, alternated days staying by Chase’s side in the hospital and caring for Hudson, Chase’s adored older brother.
Chase’s dad Billy describes the whole experience as surreal. Looking back, he remembers taking life from day-to-day.
“I survived today. Then, you survive tomorrow as well. Before you know it, you’re six months, or a year in. You just survive day-to-day,” Billy said.
There was a time during Chase’s treatment when he could not walk.
“He completely lost all motor ability. When he tried to kick a ball, he would fall down,” Tatum said.
In his own words, Chase says ‘he has sick blood and he can’t wait to feel better’.
On a typical day, Chase wakes up in the morning and knows he has to have his ‘Captain Chemo’ at 6.30am. Chase has even named his port, ‘Richie’, after famous Australian cyclist, Richie Porte.
If Chase is feeling good, he attends his Prep class and plays tennis after school, however he is averaging one to two days at home per week and currently works with a physiotherapist.
This September, Gold Coast Hospital Foundation is raising much-needed funds to help purchase vital medical equipment, fund world-class health research and provide interactive play and sensory areas at Gold Coast University Hospital, Robina Hospital and across the health service.
Get involved with Scrub Up September.