A family’s heartbreak, and the toughest decision of all

Huxley and his family are intent on spending as much time together as possible.
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A local family is asking for support from the community after their one-year-old was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.

Just after Christmas last year, Jessica Chalk recalls almost-one-year-old Huxley King getting sick. Initially, she said his parents, Alisha Francis and Brendan King, thought it was COVID, but the next thing they knew, he was in the hospital, with a 9cm tumour located in his lung.

Huxley started chemotherapy the very next day, followed by radiotherapy, with the family travelling from Penrith to Westmead Children’s Hospital daily whilst Alicia was still pregnant with their second child.

“She can’t hold him because he’s now radioactive. She can’t change his nappy,” Chalk said.

“He’s begging for mummy, and she can’t touch him.”

Brendan hasn’t been able to work consistently since Huxley’s diagnosis, with Alisha also on and off with pregnancy, and now a newborn.

After months of treatments on additional tumours which developed throughout his body, Huxley has been diagnosed with malignant rhabdoid tumours – a rare condition which means he will continue to develop more tumours which won’t respond to treatments.

Huxley King.

The family has since made a decision that no one should ever have to make.

“They decided that after 149 days of putting this poor baby through all sorts of treatment, that there was nothing further that they could do for him except pain relief,” Chalk said.


It’s because of this that Chalk has planned a trivia fundraiser, set to take place at Richmond Club on Saturday, July 20.

The event will kick off at 6pm with dinner at the Villago restaurant before the activities begin at 7pm.

It will also be accompanied by a raffle with over 40 prizes, as well as an auction.

“We have some awesome prizes that have been donated, like a signed Panthers jersey, a signed Adam Sandler photo, we’ve got a flight where you get to fly an airplane and learn how to do loop-de-loops, and I think that’s amazing,” she said.

With all the funds raised set to go directly to Huxley and his family, Chalk said it will make a huge difference.

“We understand that we’re not going to buy him time, but it’s a matter of buying them quality time with what they’ve got left,” she said.

“I don’t think anybody should have to choose between keeping a roof over their head and feeding their family, and spending those last moments with their child.”

Chalk is hoping to see the Penrith community showcase their generosity and support on the night.

“We’ve got capacity at Richmond Club for 200 people, so we’re hoping that that’s what we get,” she said.

“I think it takes a village to support a family, and I think as Penrith locals, the one thing I’ve always loved about Penrith is when there’s a good cause, we all rally around it.”

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3LeX6o3.

To donate, visit https://bit.ly/3Ldc8uJ.

Cassidy Pearce

Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.

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