Nova Scotia

N.S. boy with rare cancer doing well

A young boy suffering from a rare form of cancer was able to return home just in time for Christmas, and doctors are optimistic about the boy's future.
Zac Connolly came home from cancer treatment just in time for Christmas. (CBC)

A young boy suffering from a rare form of cancer was able to return home just in time for Christmas, and the boy's family is optimistic about the boy's recovery.

Zac Connolly, who's not quite three-years-old, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma last June.

The family first noticed changes in Zac in February when the outgoing toddler suddenly became withdrawn. One infection followed another. Then he stopped walking.

Neuroblastoma develops from nerve tissue. It affects one in about 100,000 infants and children.

Zac had three tumours — one by his neck, within his chest, and around his kidney. He needed to go to Toronto for three months for surgery and treatment.

Friends organized a benefit concert, with Matt Mays headlining so that he and his family could head to Toronto.

Zac's mother, Angela Connolly said the family returned home just in time for Christmas.

"We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here. It was wonderful — the best Christmas ever," she said.

The month-long treatment, while shorter than originally expected, was gruelling.

"Toronto was tough. It was a hard treatment. He had high-dose chemotherapy for eight days, and then he had his bone-marrow transplant when they put the stem cells back in, and then he had mouth sores that lasted about three weeks. They were horrible," Connolly said.

"He was on a really high dose of hydromorphone, morphine stopped working, so they had to put him on hydromorphone, and then he had a bowel problem, and then he had a bladder problem. They were all temporary, thank goodness."

Connolly said the concert fully covered their costs while they were in Toronto.

"The people in the community were just so generous. They just put a positive spin on all the negative stuff we were going through."

Zac gets a break for the holidays and will start radiation at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax on Jan. 10.

"That's two and a half weeks. And then we'll have another small break. We're outpatient that whole time, which is great, and then we'll start an immuno-therapy treatment," Connolly said.

If all continues to go well, he'll be completely done sometime in August.

"He's great. He's doing wonderful. He handles this all with such grace, it's incredible for being only three years old," Connolly said.

"He's my hero."