One in five children in Western Australia has a respiratory disease. It is the leading cause of hospitalisation for children…
When little Stephanie first started vomiting, her parents thought she had caught an everyday childhood bug that would clear up in no time.
But when she continued to be sick every morning, her increasingly concerned parents took her to their local doctor on several occasions to find out what was wrong.
After the family’s GP couldn’t offer a solution, Stephanie’s parents – Natasha and Darren – took her to the emergency department at Midland Hospital where she was given a CT scan, which revealed the devastating truth that their five-year-old daughter had a brain tumour.
After being rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital and undergoing an MRI, it was only four days later – on 17 July 2016 – that Stephanie underwent brain surgery to remove what turned out to be the majority of the tumour.
Above: Stephanie pictured outside the Children’s Cancer Ward at PMH with her doctors Dr Nick Gottardo and Dr Rishi Kotecha.
What followed over the next six months was various rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatment all of which, according to her mother, Stephanie has taken in her stride.
“Following surgery she couldn’t walk, drink, eat or do anything for herself, she pretty much just slept and we weren’t sure if she would make it through,” says Natasha, who’s younger daughter Amanda is just turning three years old.
“But she has been really amazing and so strong throughout her treatment, we’re extremely proud of her.
“The support we have gained from the team at the hospital, particularly Ward 3B, has been incredible,” adds Stephanie’s father Darren.
“We couldn’t have been as strong for Stephanie without the wonderful support of the staff in the oncology ward, particularly Dr Nick and all the other surgeons, they’ve been brilliant and we have them to thank for keeping our little girl alive.
“We’d also like to thank the amazing social workers who have been there for us as well as the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation and in fact all of the people who donate to the Foundation’s various fundraisers. With everything we have gone through we realise the hospital is incredibly supported by the Foundation and the funding it provides is invaluable.”
Although Stephanie still has a fourth term of chemotherapy to go, her parents are hopeful that she may return to school during the second term of 2017. When she does, her little sister Amanda – Stephanie’s greatest fan – will be even prouder of her big sister.
“We have always felt that to enable our daughter to stay strong throughout her treatment, we’ve had to remain strong ourselves, and so our way of dealing with things has just been to take everything day by day,” adds Natasha.
“We really can’t thank all of the medical and nursing team at PMH enough, their care and dedication for both Stephanie and our family has been beyond anything we could have hoped for.”