Max's Story

Childhood cancer doesn't discriminate. The only thing that's guaranteed is that there will be more children who get it".

- Albina, Max's mum

Albina Naum describes family life before her son, Max, was diagnosed with cancer as “ordinarily boring - which was a lovely place to be.”  But just before Max’s fourth Christmas, life changed irreversibly.


At three years of age, Max was happy and healthy and enjoying day care. Described by his mum as "Mr Social Butterfly, with zero inhibitions", he was very lively and loved going out. "He was always just happy-go-lucky," says Albina. "As long as he was in the action, he was happy. He was always the life of the party and turned everything into a joke."


Max showed no obvious signs of illness until he had what Albina describes as "blood clotting coming out of his nose". After his happened on and off over a few weeks, she took Max to the GP, but the GP said he couldn't see anything.

On the morning of 15 December, when Albina and husband Alex were due to take their first day off together in years - with tickets to the theathre and dinner booked - Max's nose started gushing blood. Albina then noticed a series of dots on the side of Max's wrist, which she now knows as petechiae.

Alex suggested they swing past Emergency "just to make sure it's OK". By the end of the day, Max was admitted to Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

Unbeknownst to me, Alex Googled ‘nosebleed, dots on the arm’, and the first thing that’s come up is leukaemia,”

- Albina, Max's Mum


Albina says that despite being told leukaemia was a possibility, she was "very much in denial" until a sobering discussion with the oncologist finally brought it home. "He said to me: Just to be clear, we're not doing the bone marrow aspirate to see if he has leukaemia - we just need to know which type".

Waiting for results of the test, which would determine the course of Max's treatment, went by very slowly.

Max was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and give a good prognosis. "The cure rates for this type of cancer are very high, and the thought that kept us going was that there were a number of treatment avenues we had available," says Albina "Not all cancers are like that, unfortuantely."

There were some tough moments through the treatment, but I'd say those days were the hardest.”

- Albina, Max's Mum


Max began two years of treatment. For 190 nights during the first year, Albina didn't sleep at home - something her young daughter Sophie found very hard to deal with. Through treatment with steroids and countless rounds of chemotherapy, Max shomehow seemed to take it all in this stride. Albina describes him as "an absolute trooper who just gets on with it."

Max's minimal residual disease test results - which can give an early indication of how well treatment is working - were ambivalent, leaving Max's parents in a quandary as to whether to continue on the same path or intensify treatment. After agonising about which way to go, they eventually decided Max would go through the harder treatment. While this lead to some harsh side effects, Albina says it all worked out in the end.

I was ignorant of the reality of how invasive the treatment is, and the devastating impacts it can have on families.”

- Albina, Max's Mum


Reflecting on the experience, Albina says it taught her many valuable things, including how to take things one day at a time - a foreign concept at first. "You have to teach yourself not to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow's problems will be dealth with tomorrow, because you've got enough on your hands to be dealing with today."

Having witnessed the life-saving work of researchers and medical teams, Albina says she questioned what she could do, before realising everyone can help. "What I say to people is: you can be saving lives. The battle isn't fought in miles, it's fought in inches. Each inch is hard fought for and requires funding."

The more people who raise awareness and support, the faster the progress to the cure.”

- Albina, Max's Mum

How you can help

Give a gift

By giving a gift today, you can make a difference to the lives of children with cancer.

Ways to give

Fundraising and events

Get involved in one of our events or create your own to help find better, safer treatments for children with cancer.

Find an event


Join our diverse community of businesses, philanthropists and gamechangers, determined to help cure childhood cancer.

Learn more

Share your story

Have you been touched by childhood cancer and would like to share your story? Please get in touch today.

Share my story

Your donation will fund research that will save young lives!