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Danté’s journey

Immaculate Heart College Year 4s with their handmade cards and posters for their local hero Danté, centre. Photo by Kim Knight.

Danté is a 16 year-old living up to the meaning of his name: steadfast and enduring.

The fun-loving, fit and healthy Lower Chittering teen, with a passion for all things sport, developed constant headaches and became unsteady on his feet with dizziness in May. Despite the series of tests in Emergency at Joondalup Health Campus suggesting the cause was dehydration, his mother Kimberley (Kim) explains, “We felt something more serious was going on and requested an MRI.”

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging revealed a 3.8 cm life-threatening tumour in Danté’s cerebellum. He was transferred to the High Dependency Unit at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital for close monitoring while awaiting surgery.

Kim describes the surgery to remove the tumour that had rapidly grown to 4.1 cm. “It took a total of seven and a half hours and we were told to expect all sorts of side effects, such as speech delay and loss of hearing, leg function and memory. However, Danté came out a fighter and very vocal.”

A week later, Danté was officially diagnosed with WNT Medulloblastoma, a malignant cancer rarely found in his age group. Fortunately, it’s the subtype that has the most favourable prognosis as it had not spread to other parts of his body and has a relatively low risk of return post-treatment. More good news is he’s under the care of St. Jude Children’s Hospital Research which Kim says, “Specifically research medulloblastomas and find the best possible treatment and possible cures.”

Danté is currently at the treatment stage of his journey, courageously enduring radiation therapy, which will be followed by chemotherapy. He also undergoes regular MRIs and blood tests along with appointments with an occupational therapist, neurologist, dentist, physiotherapist, audiologist, and oncologist.
“The treatment leaves him very weak, tired and sick,” said Kim. “We are blessed to have a room at Ronald McDonald house to save the long journey back and forth to the hospital every day. He loves family time at home on weekends with his siblings who lift his spirits.

“Danté’s strength as a young man going through something so scary has been a massive inspiration to us all.”

The communities of Bindoon, Bullsbrook, Chittering, Gingin and surrounds agree and have rallied together to raise funds and support the Campbell Patalaros family journey with cooked meals and donations via Go Fund Me. With life turned upside down, Kim and husband Gabriel are not working while spreading their time between hospital with Dante and their four other children.

Last year Danté finished Year 10 at Immaculate Heart College (IHC) with his sights set on establishing his own personal training business. Since diagnosis, his dreams are bigger and added to his list is owning gyms, teaching children about health, fitness and happiness, and to play for the likes of his favourite soccer teams Perth Glory or Sydney Olympic. When Kim remarked, “That’s setting the bar pretty high buddy,” Danté replied, “Mum if I can get through this, I can get through anything.”

Staff, students, parents and friends have hosted fundraising events to contribute towards the goal of $20,000, which currently stands at $16,668.

A spectacular bonfire and most recently, soccer charity match ‘Kicking goals for Danté’ have in turn been supported by a wide range of generous local business supporters and major sponsors such as DHL and Perth Glory.

Teacher Skye Hannd, summed it up at the game, “Today you will have left your mark on our community by giving your time, donations, and support. A wise person once said that the journey to finding your best self — your best version of you — starts by giving your best self to others.

“I am beyond proud to be part of such a community that has so much spirit for something bigger than yourselves.”
Of the soccer match, Kim enthused, “Danté felt like a real celebrity, very special and loved. He had a huge smile which made our hearts melt.”

The family has expressed their gratitude to the school and wider community. “We can’t thank you enough for being so kind-hearted, loving and supportive of Danté,” Kim said. “It’s really warmed our hearts and we are so humbled, grateful and blessed for all of the time and effort.”