Courageous spirit lives on

Harvey Lovering... 300 people attended his funeral last month.
Harvey Lovering... 300 people attended his funeral last month.

That’s what Cassie Lovering repeated over and over to her three-year-old son Harvey on June 8 as he lay struggling to draw breath inside the intensive care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital.

In the days leading up to his death, the Bayswater boy had endured another round of chemotherapy for a rare and aggressive brain tumour ” atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour (AT/RT) ” that accounts for about 2 per cent of childhood brain tumours and is reported to have a ‘very low’ survival rate.

Ironically, it was a viral lung infection that was about to prove fatal ” the side effects of chemo having destroyed his body’s ability to fight infection.

Harvey’s death was sudden and unexpected at that point, but consistent with the prognosis from doctors associated with the risks of more chemotherapy.

He had also had ‘mega’ doses of chemo and 28 rounds of radiotherapy earlier in his treatment.

Harvey’s life could have been prolonged a little, but Mrs Lovering and her husband Gabriel chose ‘dignity, comfort and quality of life’ for him, the youngest of their three children, who was first diagnosed with cancer on January 14, 2011, at the age of 17 months.

Mr Lovering recounted a moment in hospital he would never forget:

‘There was like a wildfire going through him with no immune system to fight. He was seriously struggling. But at one point we had a priest there to say some prayers for him and the very next thing Harvey said was, ‘I’m gonna get down and walk; I want to go for a walk’, he said. That’s just the way he was; he’d never give up and kept fighting.’

Just before Christmas in 2010, Harvey had been unwell. The first sign of something amiss was waking up one afternoon with an unsteady gait, falling to the side as he tried to walk.

Vomiting and ear infections were not immediately of serious concern to doctors, but when vomiting early in the New Year persisted for 10 days, Mrs Lovering knew something was not right.

‘Trust your instinct; you can’t fear being a paranoid parent,’ she said when asked what advice she had for parents concerned about the health of their children.

‘Be persistent. You just know when there’s something seriously wrong with your child.’

Harvey Jiao Goh Lovering’s life and indelible qualities were celebrated by more than 300 people at his funeral on June 14 ” a place his celebrated lion-hearted spirit came alive among the gold, orange and yellow of the congregation and the balloons released into the sky.

Mrs Lovering said she would continue blogging (harveythecourageouslion.blogspot.com). Mr Lovering plans a fundraising walk from Albany to Perth in early October.