Terminally ill three-year-old‘s thrilling week

Tutemaungaroa Hillman, 3, who has terminal cancer, goes for a ride with Whakatane Fire Station officers Chris Hands, front, and Colin Geenty, back. Photo: Troy Baker.

Just this week, Tutemaungaroa “Tu” Hillman has been in a fire engine, a police car, taken a helicopter ride and more in a bid to tick off his bucket list.

His adventure-filled week is tinged with sadness though, the three-year-old has terminal brain cancer and his family wants to give him the best experiences in the time he has left with them.

“I am just trying to give him the best last couple of months I can,” says mum Abby Hillman.

An MRI a couple of weeks ago showed the cancer Tu has been fighting since he was two, has returned.

“He has battled this cancer for over a year and half and with the last three MRIs, before this last one, we thought we were clear, but then we found out a week and a half ago that [the cancer] was back.

“Because of the aggressive form of the cancer, there is nothing more [doctors] can do.”

Abby and her husband Ben want to give their boy the best time they could and have started a Givealittle page to help fund all the activities.

Yesterday, Whakatane Fire Station took him for a ride in their fire engine, with Tu getting a chance to work the siren and sit alongside the firefighters in the front seat. His siblings piled into the back seat.

He was also planning to go for a boat ride at midday.

Tu’s thrilling week started on Tuesday with horse riding, followed by a ride in a Holden V8, then he helped drive a maize harvester.

On Wednesday, he rode in a police car and met a police dog, followed by a helicopter ride in the Hawke's Bay.

He has another chopper ride planned for Ōpōtiki today.

He has horse riding scheduled, another helicopter ride in Taupō coming up and a Ulysses car meet on the weekend.

“We are just trying to think of more things; he is going to some more maize harvesting and … has a couple of laps around Pukekohe race track next month and then he is going on the Hampton Downs one as well.”

Tu also wants to spend a day at kindy.

The family has been living in emergency housing in Whakatāne since Tu’s treatment ended in July last year.

They lost the house they had in Hawke's Bay because they had to spend a year in Auckland while Tu was treated at Starship Hospital.

They also lost the house contents because they could not get back to retrieve them.

It had been a long journey for the family since Tu’s diagnosis at the age of two in October 2020, says Abby.

“At the very start, when we found out that he had pineoblastoma, which is a rare and aggressive brain cancer, we knew then that he had only a 13 percent chance of surviving.

“But after three rounds of normal chemo, one round of intensive chemo and six weeks of radiation, the first MRI after that was clear – well we thought it was clear.

“We had that false sense of hope he had beaten it. As much as you shouldn’t, you still hope for the best and we relaxed a little bit.”

To contribute to Tu’s Givealittle page see https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-make-tus-last-dreams-come-true

-Whakatane Beacon.




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