Richie was diagnosed with stage 4 Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma on March 16th, 2020. That morning Richie told his mum he couldn't breathe properly. On hearing this, Lisa immediately took him to the emergency department at the Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
There he underwent investigations which included a chest x-ray, and was given an initial diagnosis of pneumonia. After further tests and scans, it became clear that this was much more than pneumonia.
This was the beginning of a nightmare for the Walsh family. To hear the words “your child has cancer” is something that Richie’s parents Lisa and Karl will never forget. In that instance, their worlds and that of their children was turned upside down forever.
Richie began 52 weeks of intense chemotherapy, followed by 8 weeks of radiotherapy over the next 18 months. Sadly, despite all the treatment Richie never went into remission. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on the 26th of September 2021. He was only 9 years old.
Lisa and Karl, and their children Melissa, Luke, and Layla vowed that their warrior son and brothers’ strength, courage, and bravery would never be forgotten. Through the Richie's Rainbow Foundation, they aim to raise funds for vital research into treatments and therapies, that are kinder and more effective for children that are diagnosed with a sarcoma. By doing this, the Walsh family hope that one day all children who are diagnosed with a sarcoma can be cured.
Richie's Rainbow Foundation
Richie's Rainbow Foundation in honour of Richie Walsh
Sarcomas are cancers that arise from bone, cartilage, or soft tissues, such as muscle, fat connective tissue, or blood vessels. They can form anywhere in the body and are often misdiagnosed in young people. Sarcomas are one of the most common childhood cancers and account for approximately 20% of all childhood cancers.
The most common type of soft tissue sarcoma in children is Rhabdomyosarcoma. Rhabdomyosarcoma is made up of cells that would normally develop into skeletal muscles that are used to control movement in parts of the body.
The most common sites for Rhabdomyosarcoma to develop are the head, neck, urinary and reproductive organs, bladder, and prostate. It can also develop in the limbs or trunk. The most common types of Rhabdomyosarcoma are Embryonal (ERMS), or Alveolar (ARMS).
ERMS typically affects children within the first 5 years of life and tends to have a more favourable prognosis. However, this is dependent on several factors including stage, location of disease and age of child.
ARMS typically affects children over the over age of 10 years but can affect all ages. ARMS is usually more aggressive than ERMS and tends to grow at a faster rate, requiring more intense treatment.
The overall 5-year survival rate for children aged 0-14 with a diagnosis of Rhabdomyosarcoma is around 76%. However, when the disease has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body the survival rate falls to around 20% - 30%.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is treated with a range of different therapies which may include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. This will be dependent on several factors including tumour location, stage, and age of the patient. Sadly, these treatments can leave children with long-term life-changing side effects. Richie’s Rainbow Foundation is committed to raising funds for much-needed research into kinder and effective treatments that will allow our children to live a long and happy life.
Richies Rainbow Foundation
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Richie's Rainbow Foundation
(Level 19 ) 10 Eagle Street Brisbane 4000
Richies Rainbow Foundation acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land throughout Australia, and their connections to land, waters, and community. We acknowledge their stories, traditions, and living cultures, and we pay our respect to elders past, present, and emerging. Richie's Rainbow is committed to ongoing learning about the individual needs of our families. We strive to create a respectful and inclusive space for people of all cultures and identities.
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