‘We thought we were saying goodbye’: Little boy’s big battle
LIKE hundreds of excited preppies across the state, six-year-old Jasper Bell woke up at the crack of dawn on his first day of school, put on his uniform for the first time, and barely had time to look back at his parents as they left him at school.
But little Jasper would only spend a week in prep before he was admitted to hospital and placed into an induced coma for over a week.
In the first week of school, Jasper's mum Hannah told the Dalby Herald she received a call from his schoolteacher one day saying he had been flat and tired all day.
When Jasper himself asked his mum to take him to the doctor Mrs Bell knew something wasn't right.
"From prep on Wednesday to a coma on Sunday, it was all very full on," she said.
After a visit to the doctor, Jasper was taken to Dalby Hospital and flown from there to the Children's Hospital for immediate treatment where he was placed in a coma days later.
As the doctors put Jasper in a coma, his parents said good night and told him to have a good sleep, but Mrs Bell could only think of the worst.
"It was very difficult at the start," she said.
"When they were saying we've got to put him to sleep, we tried to keep it as normal as possible … it really felt like we were saying goodbye."
Jasper was diagnosed with the rare immune disease secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in February as the result of a virus.
With chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant to follow, it was important for Mr and Mrs Bell to keep a positive mindset and to explain to Jasper and his brother Sawyer as best they could what was going on.
"I said instead of his body fighting it with science, his body kind of Hulked out and smashed everything and not just that bad part," Mrs Bell said.
"It went hulk smash on his body."
But in the eight months since his devastating diagnosis, Jasper's condition has improved and he is slowly but surely getting back to being a normal six-year-old boy.
Without the support of their family and community, the Bell's aren't sure they would have made it out in one piece.
"Everyone back home as been amazing," Mrs Bell said.
"We're so lucky that we live in such a great community … we had someone come around and keep our garden alive.
"It really makes you realise what a support network you have when you need it."
After eight months of treatment, Jasper went back to school on Monday for the first time since his diagnosis. He still receives monthly transfusions but has been able to head back to school, and is already telling his classmates all about his battles and planning what he wants to be when he grows up.
"He's gone through things where he says I want to build houses, I want to help people, and I want to be a truck driver or a train driver," Mrs Bell said.
But for now, it's time to get back to normality for the family and just in time for Christmas.