Father gives thanks for healthy boy

Manuaitu Haggie (2) at home with his father, Reihana, and the carved bowling ball up for auction. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Manuaitu Haggie (2) at home with his father, Reihana, and the carved bowling ball up for auction. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Manuaitu Haggie has learned to be brave before he has learned to read and write.

The 2-year-old has been battling a rare cancer for the past 20 months and has the beads of courage to prove it.

"He has 450-odd beads," his father, Reihana Haggie, said.

"The yellow ones are for days spent in hospital and the black ones are for injections. The beads of courage have helped mark Manu's journey; the good, the bad and the sad. They're a symbol of his strength and courage."

To mark his son's journey, Mr Haggie is carving the ultimate bead - a full-sized bowling ball - which is being auctioned to raise funds for the Child Cancer Foundation.

"I wanted to do something for them to give something back for what they've done for us."

The family was living in Christchurch when Manuaitu was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver tumour, on December 20, 2010.

"My wife [Amanda] and I knew something was wrong, as he had changed from a bubbly boy to a very quiet and very, very tired son, and could not hold food or liquid down," Mr Haggie said.

"We had taken him to our GP, who did a thorough check and could find no obvious signs of illness, and a specialist's appointment was organised.

"Three weeks later, we discovered a large lump in his puku. When Manu was diagnosed with cancer at just 10 months old our worlds changed forever."

After undergoing liver surgery at Starship Hospital in Auckland and eight months of chemotherapy, which included spending his first birthday in hospital, Manuaitu was well enough to return home to be with his parents and brothers, Ruateatea (8) and Te Toa (4).

Then the February 22 earthquake struck.

"We were very lucky in the earthquake, compared to a lot of other people," Mr Haggie said.

The family now lives in Dunedin.

"It has been great to see Manu become healthy. He has been a year in remission now. We count our blessings."

The bowling ball will be auctioned after the Kaikorai Bowling Club tournament on November 3, or bids can be emailed to kmclachlan@childcancer.org.nz.

nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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