Fighting cancer to play cricket

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It wasn’t until 11-year-old Houston Larcart was undergoing chemotherapy, a week after trying out for the State School Boys Cricket team, that the real reason emerged for his poor form that day.

After reporting pain in his leg during a game of cricket earlier this year, Houston had a blood test to check for glandular fever. But the results came back that it was in fact Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

“I was in a meeting when the call came through from my wife and I just dropped everything I was doing and rushed to the hospital, which was the start of the biggest whirlwind of our lives,” said Houston’s dad, Michael.

Houston’s treatment began straight away, with four rounds of chemotherapy and a Hickman Central Line put in place to allow for antibiotics and chemotherapy to travel to the bloodstream instantly.

Houston was so unwell from the chemotherapy he would throw up 12 times a day on average and had to be fed through a tube. His record was 30 times within a 24-hour period.

“We always had 10 sick bags on hand, and I still managed to puke on the floor and on the nurses,” said Houston.

For the next five and a half months, the Larcart family lived at the Royal Children’s Hospital day in and day out, while Houston underwent bone marrows biopsies and had chemotherapy injected into his spine.

For 11-year-old Houston Larcart, cricket has been a major focus throughout his battle to beat cancer.

In August this year, Houston completed his final round of chemotherapy, which was just in time for the start of cricket season.

“When we came out of hospital, cricket season was just beginning and because his cricket club didn’t know when he would be back, they had saved his spot in the team,” said Michael.

After leaving hospital, Houston was eager to get back into cricket but struggled with the Hickman Central Line. After having the central line removed, Houston had to rest for four days and avoid any physical activity to avoid bleeding out.

Before long, Houston was back playing his first game and although he experienced pain in his feet and hobbled around the field, he managed 8-Not-Out and scored a wicket.

During Houston’s treatment, the Caroline Springs Cricket club raised money to support the family. “The money that the cricket club raised for us has kept the family going, as my wife stopped working when Houston fell ill and still hasn’t resumed work as Houston is only at school part time while he recovers,” said Michael.

During his season before falling ill, Houston was to receive a couple of trophies but wasn’t able to attend the presentation due to being in hospital.

Instead, the boys from his team held their own presentation ceremony in the Royal Children’s hospital for him.

Michael said that in a way, cricket made the whole process easier.

“Cricket gave the family purpose and something to focus on, as our end goal was to get Houston back on the playing field.”

“Although his first game back was hard because we could see he was in pain, it didn’t stop him from giving it his all and to us, that felt like we had reached the finish line.”

“He was disappointed in his first game back as he thought he would play better. But we all sat around and had a cry together ,saying the most important thing is that you’re playing cricket and are out of hospital, it really put it into perspective.”

Houston has one goal in mind for the future, and that’s to play for Australia.

“The goal at the top of my list is to play for Australia, and I have been working towards that goal for a long time.”