Brave Nixon finally bandage-free after cancer battle

Kristine Tarbert

At only two years old, Nixon Ball has already had to fight more than most.

Diagnosed with cancer before he was even born, by the time the toddler was 18-months-old he’d had six surgeries and 10 rounds of chemotherapy.

Because the tumour was on his scalp Nixon has had to wear a bandage wrapped around his head for almost all of his short life.

Incredibly though, the little fighter has been given the all clear and finally been able to remove the bandage for the first time since he was born.

“He is the most amazing kid. He put up with so much, much more than many adults have ever had to deal with,” his proud mum Brodie Donegan tells Be exclusively.

Nixon Ball was diagnosed with cancer before he was born. Photo: Supplied

Nixon’s tumour was picked up when a sonographer noted a lump on his scalp during an ultrasound. For Brodie and partner Nick, 35, the news was devastating.

The couple had already lost their nearly full-term unborn daughter, after Brodie was run over by a drug-driver on Christmas Day in 2009.

“I was scared to death. I felt like I stopped breathing,” Brodie, 37, tells us.

Brodie with Nixon and his siblings Ashlee and Lachlan. Photo: Supplied

“From the time they picked it up until he was born was 1.5 weeks but it felt like a year. I just wanted him out and know he was ok.

“Particularly as I'd already lost one baby my heart was breaking at the thought of losing another.”

Nixon was delivered early. Photo: Supplied

Nixon was delivered early so doctors could take action on the unknown growth, which was 5cm long and 3cm high. Within two weeks Nick and Brodie were told he had a rhabdoid tumour (typically associated with kidneys).

Barely weeks old, Nixon started chemotherapy but it was working, and fast. He then had surgery to remove the tumour followed by more chemo.

Chemotherapy worked fast. Photo: Supplied

“After all of his treatment was finished we were told doctors would have given him a 10-15 per cent chance of getting through,” Brodie explains.

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“I'm glad we asked them not to tell us. I didn't want a number on him and to me it didn't matter because I was going to get him through this.”

Nixon had six surgeries and 10 rounds of chemo by the time he was 18 months. Photo: Supplied

Amazingly, scans since the end of his treatment have returned no sign of cancer, including his most recent one in June.

Brodie admits she gets “scanxiety” but Nixon is doing extremely well.

“My heart broke the entire way through treatment, everyday there was something new to deal with. But he did it. We did it,” she says.

Nixon has had a bandage on his head his whole life. Photo: Supplied

The final step for Nixon was plastic surgery to fix what was essentially an open wound on his head.

Initially the plan was to use skin grafts but a last minute offer from a company trialling new skin-growing technology, avoided that trauma.

Nixon was the first successful trial of a new skin-growing technique. Photo: Supplied

Just before Christmas he became the first successful treatment case, and by January, Nixon was finally bandage free.

“I cried. It was the first time in two years he didn't have a dressing of some kind on his head,” says Brodie.

Nixon is now bandage-free for the first time. Photo: Supplied

“Now he’s just like any other kid; he can get his head wet, he can have a shower. He can swim and not worry about being splashed.”

His skin is still thin and he has to wear a hat or beanie outside to protect from the sun, but Brodie says he is getting used to not having anything on his head.

Brodie says he loves feeling his hair. Photo: Supplied

“Sometimes when he's shy he wants his hat on. I think it’s for comfort. But he still loves to sit and feel his hair,” she says.

“He is the feistiest toddler you have ever met. He is very determined and very strong-minded. He will move mountains this kid.”

Nixon is now a happy healthy two-year-old. Photo: Supplied

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