Mascot Toby tackles hurdles head-on

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patient, and under 10 player, Toby Cahill leads the Sebastopol football team onto the ground for their first Ballarat Football Club game of the 2015 season. Picture: KATE HEALYWHEN Toby Cahill was invited to run out onto the footy field as the mascot for the Sebastopol Football Club on Saturday, he thought that meant wearing a kookaburra costume.

Instead the nine-year-old, who is being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, entered Marty Busch Reserve in the same kit he wore when playing junior footy in the morning.

And despite having completed the first of three months of chemotherapy, the little battler joined the Sebastopol senior players for the entire warm-up lap before the start of the Ballarat Football League match against Bacchus Marsh. He wasn’t about to be left behind.

Toby was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, after his mother Mardi noticed a lump on his neck on Christmas Day.

He is undergoing treatment for the condition, which will include a visit to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne this coming Tuesday.

It is a very serious illness but Toby’s main concern is that he is likely to miss the next three weeks of footy.

“He’s a tough little character,” father Steven Cahill said. “He has been a bit crook from the chemo but being such a fit little kid has helped I think.”

Even before his diagnosis, Toby didn’t let adversity stand in the way of being a formidable little footballer. Because of his eyesight he wears glasses on the football field – a well-worn pair of glasses that has clearly copped its share of knocks as Toby has burrowed into get a kick.

Sebastopol Football Netball Club president Chris Parker asked Toby lead the Kookaburras out onto the field, and new Burras coach Shane Snibson treated him as one of the team as they prepared to enter the arena.

The tough nut, who turns 10 on Monday, said it was “a bit exciting” to be among 22 footballers who towered above him in terms of height but not in terms of bravery and commitment.

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