By DARREN COYNE
THE Curtain family's battle against cancer has escalated into a war.
Stuart and Karen Curtain of Ban-ora Point have spent more than three years dealing with their nine-year-old son Aaron's leukaemia, and were overjoyed when he went into remission 12 months ago.
Then just before Christmas the family was dealt a devastating blow ? Stuart has been diagnosed with cancer.
Doctors are 99 per cent sure it is leukaemia.
Stuart was in the process of organising a massive fundraiser for the Leukaemia Foundation when he was struck down by illness. See story, Page 3
Workmate Jeff Engelen this week summed up the family's situation as "pretty bloody hard".
"Before Christmas Stuart was quite alright, but then over Christmas he went down in a big heap. It's quite a big shock for everyone," Mr Engelen said.
Stuart is a little more circumspect.
"We've certainly had a rough trot in the past couple of years," he said.
Illness already had placed great pressure on the family, with Karen forced to spend months in Brisbane with Aaron while Stuart stayed at home with their other children, Alisha, 8, and Adam, 2.
Since being diagnosed, Stuart, an electrician, has only been able to work intermittently.
"I just can't get up to the ceilings anymore on a ladder without losing my breath. In fact I only have to look at a house and I lose my breath," he said.
Knowing what treatments are in store is also daunting.
"I've gone through it all with Aaron, holding him down while they've put a needle in his leg, telling him it won't hurt while he's crying and screaming.
"Then I've had to hold him down in surgery while they put the gas on him and then leave to walk up and down the corridors. Then he wakes up and you see the pain he's in ...."
Adding to the trauma is Stuart's hatred of needles.
"I've got to have a bone marrow test done to work out exactly what cancer it is, although the doctors are 99 per cent sure it's leukaemia," he said. "I'm a bit frightened of that needle going into my spine."
His mate Jeff offers a quiet word of support to his mate. "You've got to have it done Stu, you can't keep putting it off."
Asked how she was coping with their second battle against cancer, Karen gave a resigned smile.
"I'm just cruising along. I've been there once already, I guess I can do it again."
Later as Karen gathers the children to put them in the car, Stuart admits quietly: "We've gone through a hard time and Karen has been very strong.
"She does all the blood tests and she keeps all the books up to date with the results. She is the one with the strength ... us blokes tend to keep it all inside."