Their son, Max, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at eight years old. He was given a 12% chance of survival.
After 17 visits to the doctor with symptoms such as constant vomiting, headaches and dizzy spells, Max was sent for a CT scan in Adelaide. The scan showed a sizeable tumour growing on Max’s brain.
When Mr Hooper found out their son had a brain tumour, he said he would rather be shot than ever find out news like that.
“It was devastating,” he said.
“One minute I was at work, the next minute I got a phone call that changed our lives completely. Within two hours I went from being at work to being on a plane to Adelaide.”
Taking on the roles of ‘Superdad’ and ‘Supermum’ with fight mentalities to match, Mr Hoooper said they treated the brain tumour as a battle where there was no losing.
“We were just like, this is a fight and we’re here to fight,” he said.
“At the hospital they said they had never seen people come in so charged to fight and get through it. No negativity was allowed near us.”
Max had surgery on November 4, 2014 which left him with 56 stitches in his head and he was told that he could be left paralysed on his left-hand side after the operation. Remarkably, with a bit of help from thumb-wrestling with his dad in the hospital and rehab, Max was left with only very minor paralysis that his parents forget is even there.
Now, Mr and Mrs Hooper have decided to walk from Port MacDonnell to Mount Gambier burger restaurant Natural Born Grillers on September 17 to raise money for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
They will start walking at 8am and will reach the finish line at around midday. They are inviting everyone to join them for a burger, with Natural Born Grillers donating $5 from every special Burger of the Week sold. They will also be accepting cash donations.
The family would like to raise $5000 but will be happy with however much they raise.
Mrs Hooper said she hoped the walk, which stemmed from the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation posting about a virtual walk on Facebook, would bring a bit of positivity into this year while raising money for a foundation very close to their hearts.
They are hoping to host a bigger event next year with more people involved when COVID restrictions are hopefully lifted.
Mr Hooper said it was important to raise money for the foundation because brain cancer is the most underfunded cancer. Brain cancer is the biggest killer in children than any other disease in Australia.
The family is hoping the event will increase awareness about brain cancer and that more people will learn about the statistics, the mortality rate and how much it changes lives. And as a cancer with a mortality rate so grim, Mrs Hooper said they were extremely lucky with Max’s case and want to do
Mrs Hooper said the fundraiser was an opportunity to give back to the people that offered phenomenal support at the hospitals during their distressing journey.
“If anything does happen again in the future, at least we’ve tried to help.” Mrs Hooper said.
Mr and Mrs Hooper believe the positive attitude they maintained throughout the ordeal helped a lot with their son’s road to recovery.
“The sad part is, most kids that go through this don’t come out of it,” Mr Hooper said.
“That makes it even harder to stay positive, but the alternative is unthinkable.”
The journey is not over yet for Max and his family, with yearly CT scans for the rest of his life to check there is no tumour regrowth.
But despite all odds, Max is now doing well, with his parents describing him as a “miracle” who does not let anything hold him back. Now 14 years old and 6 years cancer free, Max enjoys playing basketball, video games, listening to music, riding his bike and hanging out with his friends.
Donation tins for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation can also be found at Natural Born Grillers, Intersport, The Icehouse, Metro Bakery and Café and Bay Blue Café.