Keen teen puts Ironman aside to fight leukaemia
ASPIRING Ironman Tainui Kaihau was driving to training at Peregian Beach when he received an urgent phone call. His blood test results had come through.
He had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The popular Alexandra Headland teenager was immediately rushed to the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane and that is where he has remained since being diagnosed just nine days ago.
His family are still in shock at how quickly he got sick.
THE active, healthy 17-year-old who had dreamed of one day being amongst the best in the Kellogg Nutrigrain Ironman series became ill with so little warning.
His dad, Dave Sherlock, said it had "knocked us over".
"He had been to the doctor on Tuesday morning as they thought he had a virus," Mr Sherlock said.
Tainui, known to his family as T, had been complaining of sore limbs and was starting develop bruises and an unusual rash on an upper thigh.
Thankfully, his doctor Rob Ingham at Cotton Tree Medical ordered blood tests.
When the results came through confirming the worst, Tainui was able to go straight to hospital and start treatment.
He would have been starting his first day of Year 12 at Mountain Creek this week. Instead, he has been recovering from his first bout of chemotherapy.
Mr Sherlock said Tainui would have to be in Brisbane for the next month at least as he undergoes treatments.
"We have to be close to the hospital for treatment. It's a risky period, he has no immunity and is prone to infections."
He has also been told he will have to remain on chem
otherapy and testing for the next three years - something that seems like an eternity for a kid who loves to surf and is active in surf lifesaving most weekends.
His sister Cushla said it was hard to comprehend, considering he was a fit, healthy teenager only a little more than a week ago.
"He knows he's going to be sick, he's going to vomit, he's going to lose his hair, he's going to have other side effects," she said.
"He's a mentally strong kid with a great heart and we all know he'll get through it.
"But it's going to be a long road ahead."
Mr Sherlock doesn't know yet what will happen to his job with a security firm.
He rushed home from doing contract work in Papua New Guinea on Wednesday morning to be at Tainui's side.
Family has flown in from New Zealand to help manage the home and Tainui's younger sister Grace as she heads back to school.
They're in for the long haul, aware there are no guarantees.
"We met a young girl from Caloundra in here this week who is nine months into it," Mr Sherlock said.
"She has had a lot of complications which we hope Tainui can avoid. The first nine months is very intensive."
What has helped has been the incredible outpouring of support from the Sunshine Coast and surf lifesaving communities.
"It's just blown us away," Mr Sherlock said.
"We've had food delivered and people have been lining up to help us."
In just five days, a Gofundme page set up by a friend to help the family with expenses has been shared 1700 times.
But there is still a long way to go in achieving the financial support the family will need to get them through the next several crucial months.
Money won't cure Tainui but it sure will help ease a very difficult journey ahead for them.
To share your help and support for Tainui, visit http://www.gofundme.com/tainui.