Five-year-old Louie Bell has spent years hooked up to machines, while doctors told his family to prepare for the worst. This all meant Louie couldn’t engage in his love for the outdoors, which Satan’s Little Helper wanted to fix in any way we could.
Two years ago, Maxine was having “hard conversations” about her son with doctors at Starship Hospital. They told her the best they could do for Louie was to keep him as comfortable as possible. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment weren’t working and the alternative, to remove his bladder, prostate and some of his bowel, was so extreme it would leave him with no quality of life.
“We were preparing ourselves for the worst,” Maxine explains. “But the doctors kept changing his treatment and eventually found one that was able to keep his cancer stable, which surprised everyone!”
Maxine first realised something wasn’t right with her son when he suddenly lost the ability to go to the toilet. A tumour was found in his bladder and, to make matters worse, it was pushing against the tubes that drain waste from the kidneys.
A happier ending
Thankfully, Louie is in remission now.
“He’s been off treatment for 12 months and is stable,” says Maxine. “His tumour is still there, but it’s benign. We’re still worried that he could relapse at any moment, but he’s here now and living a normal life.”
For years, Louie was living with two catheters inserted into his kidney and one in his bladder, which, as Maxine explains, is a unique situation.
“It’s meant to be a temporary solution, but for Louie it was permanent. Not many oncology kids have that and not many people in the hospital had experience with the long-term catheter.”
That shows just how sick Louie was.
“I don’t think the staff at Starship had ever had a patient like Louis before. I’m sure they didn’t think he’d still be here and living a normal life. A lot of times we thought it would be the end, but he’s amazed everyone.
“He had three bags attached to him, so he was restricted with what he could do and had to be careful not to rip them out.”
Helping Louie get outside
Maxine says that as soon as doctors removed his tubes “Louie was outside every second he could be”.
To help facilitate more outdoor family fun, Satan’s Little Helper got Louie a brand new cornhole game.
“He just loves it,” says Maxine. “He and his big sister Molly love to play it together, which is something they missed out on while he was sick.
“We set up little competitions, which brings out such a cute, fun, competitive side of him. He really loves beating us and it’s been a really cool thing to do together.”