HAVING your child diagnosed with a chronic illness is a life-changing event for any parent.
When Wayne and Eleisha Brooks discovered their five-year-old daughter Sophie had spine and brain cancer, it shook the Canning Vale couple to the core.
“The feeling is one of disbelief, you can’t fathom it, that something like that would ever happen to you,” Mr Brooks said.
The couple first noticed something was wrong with their daughter last August.
“When she went to bed, she had a lot of pain in her abdomen,” Mr Brooks said.
“This went on for a long time and the doctors and specialists told us she had constipation.
“We went through the process of putting her on medication to clear her out and had x-rays taken to see if she was unblocked.
“It was then the doctors noticed she had scoliosis, curvature of the spine, but they didn’t think there was anything related between the two,” Mr Brooks said.
Mr and Mrs Brooks went back and forth with Sophie to hospital, visiting specialists who advised she would need to start wearing a back brace.
“This went on for three months and we thought we were on the right track as it was perhaps the spine pressing on her nerves, but Sophie’s pain came back and it was much worse,” Mr Brooks said.
Mr Brooks and his wife went back to hospital a further four or five times to be told that Sophie still had constipation, but this time the couple disagreed.
“When we were in hospital for the fifth time, we told them we were not leaving until we could get some sort of a scan done or Sophie sees another specialist because we said it can’t be her bowel,” Mr Brooks said.
“She was in excruciating pain every night and all they told us was she needed to take pain-relieving drugs.
“It’s a horrible feeling when your kid is in pain and there is nothing you can do and no one that really seems to believe you,” he said.
When Sophie finally had an MRI scan, it revealed something alarming.
“The MRI took two hours and then about nine doctors came into the waiting room and said they needed to have a chat,” Mr Brooks said.
“Then they gave us the devastating news that Sophie has a massive tumour about the size of a 20-cent coin in her spine and they think it has spread into her brain,” he said.
Further testing revealed the cancer was a less aggressive form and was finally brought under control with surgery and chemotherapy.
“They managed to remove 90 per cent of the tumour from Sophie’s spine, but could not operate on the ones in her brain, so they started chemotherapy, which helped shrink the tumours in her brain,” Mr Brooks said.
“She is doing really well now, but doesn’t understand much about what went on.”
The couple are now looking to raise awareness about brain cancer in children and Sophie is doing her bit with help from her classmates at Burrendah Primary School.
“This disease is the biggest killer of kids in Australia, something I was not aware of when Sophie was diagnosed,” Mr Brooks said.
Friday, June 12 is Pirate Day, with people urged to wear an eye patch to raise awareness and funds for childhood brain cancer.
For further information, visit http://www.pirateday friday.com