A regional South Australian community is rallying behind a toddler who has been diagnosed with a rare liver cancer and may need a transplant.

Key points:

  • Anthony McCallum, 14 months, has a “very tough and long battle” ahead
  • A liver transplant may be needed to save the toddler’s life
  • SA’s Limestone Coast community is fundraising to help his family

Anthony McCallum is just 14 months old and is receiving priority one treatment at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital days after the diagnosis was confirmed.

His parents Jesse McCallum and Kristy Forrest, from Naracoorte, face an unimaginable journey given their son has three cancer growths on his liver.

“We are heartbroken. Our whole world has been turned upside down.”

Mr McCallum said the swiftness of the hepatoblastoma liver cancer diagnosis was difficult to comprehend.

“It is going to be a very tough and long battle for our son,” he said.

“It is extraordinarily difficult but we are trying to stay positive. Anthony has already undergone surgery and numerous scans.”

Jesse McCallum hugs his sons Anthony and Jamieson.(Supplied: Jesse McCallum)

Mr McCallum said he was stunned as to what had unfolded in just a matter of days.

“We took him to the doctors late last week, he was then flown up to Adelaide on Saturday and received his chemotherapy treatment on Thursday.”

A wonderful and happy ‘little man’

Mr McCallum said his son, who he described as a loveable and vibrant toddler, had three large growths that could not be surgically removed at this stage.

He said medical staff also appeared “shocked” by the size and number of the tumours on his liver given his age.

Mr McCallum, who was in the middle of moving to a new house, said it was likely Anthony would remain in hospital for months and his family would need to be in Adelaide for up to a year.

“My partner Kristy is in Adelaide at the moment with our little man,” he said.

Anthony McCallum has been described as a vibrant and bubbly toddler.(Supplied: Jesse McCallum)

The family praised the Limestone Coast community, including people in Mount Gambier, for their support and heart-warming wishes.

The father also praised the efforts of hospital staff who were trying to save his son’s life.

Liver transplant may be needed

Mr McCallum said chemotherapy treatment would hopefully shrink the cancer so surgery could be an option, but he foreshadowed his son could need a liver transplant.

While Anthony has had health issues since he was born, the cancer diagnosis came as a shock.

“The other day in the back of the car Anthony was doing noises and kicking his legs to his favourite song Who Let The Dogs Out. He is such a bubbly boy.”

Mr McCallum revealed it was not the first time the family had battled major health issues.

He said his son Jamieson, who turns six this weekend, had been diagnosed with a growth behind his left eye.

While the growth was benign, he said it would cause ongoing health issues for his son.

A number of Limestone Coast businesses and friends have started fundraising initiatives for the family, including a Go Fund Me page.