ECHUCA’S Fran Bradley wishes she could switch places with her son.
But she can’t, so she is doing the next most vital thing — spearheading a campaign to fund treatment overseas that might just save his life.
‘‘He’s my youngest, my baby,’’ Fran said.
‘‘If I could do anything to save his life, I would.’’
Dion Barter, 39, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma in August 2014.
Five months later, the Melbourne father of four had an operation to remove his knee and half his femur.
After more than 10 months of chemotherapy and more than a year of rehabilitation, a routine CT scan in September 2016 revealed the worst.
The cancer had spread to his lungs.
‘‘Had five spots in both his lungs; the biggest was about 1cm in diameter,’’ Fran said.
After delivering the shocking news, doctors told Dion there were no options for treating this aggressive form of cancer in Australia.
‘‘They said there was nothing more they could do for him and it was just a matter of time,’’ Fran said.
‘‘For a mum, that’s pretty devastating news to hear.’’
Dion started natural treatment over the next five months, but the cancer almost doubled in size.
‘‘It’s now the size of his fist,’’ Fran said.
Last month, he had his first round of radiation therapy as palliative treatment only.
Now Dion’s partner Sarah Almy has double-mortgaged her home to fund the $200,000 he needs for his last shot at life.
The Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic in southern Germany which has a high success rate with stage four cancer patients — which comes at a high cost.
‘‘They have provided Dion with a treatment plan which they say has an 80 per cent success rate with his particular form of cancer,’’ Fran said.
‘‘He wants to fight this. He has kids and he loves living.
‘‘This clinic has given us hope.’’
Although it sounds promising, it still has to be paid for.
And with time the enemy, Sarah did not hesitate to plunge herself into massive debt so Dion could go to Germany immediately.
Where he started treatment more than a week ago, which involves using cancer blockers, and he will remain there for another few weeks.
Speaking from Germany on Wednesday, Dion said treatment was not easy.
‘‘I have good days and some really bad ones, but I’m very lucky I have my beautiful partner Sarah by my side over here and some great friends and family back home,’’ he said.
‘‘It means a lot to me that there are so many great people out there willing to go above and beyond to help me.
‘‘Over the past few years, the kindness people have shown me has made me want to fight harder.’’
Dion will continue chemotherapy at Peter Mac when he returns to Australia next month before a second round of treatment in Germany around August.
To help her son and Sarah pay for the costs of treatment, Fran will stage a goods and services auction at Echuca Workers and Services Club, where she has worked for almost three years.
Staff and community members have already donated items for the auction, which will be held at 8pm on April 28.
‘‘The club has been so supportive and I can’t thank them enough,’’ Fran said.
The mother and grandmother said she would do anything to keep her son alive.
‘‘Dion’s been so positive through this whole thing. He’s actually given me strength,’’ she said.
‘‘He loves life. He’s lived it hard and fast. He loves his motorbikes and cars.
‘‘He is a loving and caring person and a devoted father and family is everything to him.
‘‘He can’t give up and he doesn’t want to give up.’’
■To help pay for the treatment, Dion is also raffling his Ford BF GT, which has had a detailing makeover.
One thousand tickets are available at a cost of $100 each. To buy a ticket, email email@example.com
A GoFundMe Page has also been set up and people can donate to https://www.gofundme.com/dions-lift-saving-treatment