Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

12 Months with a Lump

Yesterday was 12 months since an aggressive, inoperable lump was found growing inside Pippa’s brainstem.  The ball started rolling and the domino started falling; fast……..

12 months later and I cannot believe the journey we are on is real.

People say to me, “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” My answer is always the same, “Neither can I.”

It is not something you can ever imagine. It is not something you can ever comprehend. It is what it is and you simply do the best you can. You enter a state of just being. Your perspective on everything changes. You become calmer yet you are more on edge. You learn patience yet you worry incessantly. You live each day in the day and for the day taking the day as it comes  and dealing with it then not knowing or thinking about what lies ahead.

12 months on and these are some things I have come to know………..

I know our oncologist is one of the best in the world at what he does and I am indebted to him for his persistence and doggedness 12 months ago

I know we have come a long way

I know we have achieved amazing feats

I know we have a long uncharted road still ahead of us

I know that statistics are irrelevant

I know radiation and chemotherapy are horrible but necessary to help fight the fight

I know I will never get used to handing over chemotherapy drugs to my daughter

I know that love is abundant and you can never be full of love nor can you ever run out of love to give

I know that a little sister can be her brothers’ best friend

Most importantly, I know that Pippa has the most amazing constitution, inner strength and wisdom beyond her years. Her attitude to life, is infectious and her whole approach to the past 12 months is inspiring.






For the third cycle now Pippa’s blood counts are too low for too long.  It’s not a major concern, just a small and apparently rather interesting problem that needs solving.  Although now behind on her treatment plan, she continues to be healthy, happy and full of life.  As the plan is written in sand anyway I’m not to be  bothered by it especially as her doctor is not – he just has to figure out the best way to overcome it.  We will make the drive back again to Melbourne on Sunday ready for Monday morning and more blood tests that will hopefully allow chemo treatment.

To think that I am even using the phrase, “hopefully chemo treatment”!

On the upside, Pippa’s MRI report is one, singular word – Stable.

I don’t think I have ever used a singular word to describe anything in my whole life!  I certainly haven’t used a single word to “do” anything!  This one little word doesn’t tell me a whole lot but apparently it is the best outcome for an MRI result and more importantly, it screams to me patience at a time when I’m getting really itchy feet.  I guess the weekly drive down for low blood counts is also teaching me the same lesson.

Seven and a half months ago I literally collapsed into the the doctor who delivered me the very first piece of numbing news.  I still cannot believe the daily conversations I now have, the words I have to learn and the information I have to process.  I had to be patient to get a diagnosis that could be worked with and treated, patient to wait for the steroids to do their job, patient through radiation, patient for an MRI scan that could be read and now patient to get a consistent treatment plan and continue with what lies ahead.   Pippa, although still not missing a beat, is the most patient of all.  Never complaining about numerous appointments, treatments, tests nor the thousands of kilometres that we travel.  She happily went off to school on the first day of the school year full of excitement to see her friends and teacher but completely OK that she would miss the second one and most of the third.

Pippa (along with her understanding and patient brothers as well)  is certainly teaching me some life lessons.

School for 2014



Brain tumours are not like leukaemia in terms of research. Every day I look at Pippa in wonder and amazement but I will never be complacent. She truly defies logic. I hope that one day whatever it is that makes up her incredible being contributes to brain tumour research.

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Much Needed Research

Today has been a cancer research themed day.

On Australia Day Pippa was the VIP guest at a fundraising event in Warrnambool.

This understated  little event called Kick-It Down Under was held in aid of the Royal Children’s Hospital Cancer Research.   The second time it has been held in Warrnambool (the only times outside the USA), it is part of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation raising much needed research money across the United States for Paediatric Cancer.  The game (Kick Ball) is similar to baseball but with a large rubber ball that is kicked.  I had to do a bit of googling to work it out but my children tell me in Australia they call it “Boot Ball” and play it at school and with friends in the street.

The participants of the game were the Australian and USA Sprint Car drivers who were in Warrnambool for the Australia Day Long weekend Classic.  This is about where my knowledge of all things sprint cars starts and ends, but I think that this particular meet may be the biggest (should I say in the world? I don’t know, the Southern Hemisphere perhaps sounds pretty safe).  Pippa started the game off with a “pitch” and then also kicked and ran for both teams.  A fun experience!  Today was the cheque presentation to the hospital.

Later this afternoon we also went to meet the family who have started Robert Connor Dawes Fund.   In memory of their son,  brother and friend, this group are campaigning for more brain cancer research.  They are also the inspiration, motivation and support behind Pippa’s yoga and music therapy through her radiation and now her continued yoga therapy in Melbourne.  It was a little bit confronting for me and I was quite apprehensive.  Liz has been on the other end of a text message for me and I felt I wanted to meet her.  I’m glad I did but I am particularly glad that they were abe to meet Pippa.  I applaud them for all they are doing and for speaking up  loud for brain cancer research and hope that by meeting Pippa their fight will be inspired further.

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A Little Driving Holiday

After the last chemo cycle we decided to pack up the car and take a little driving holiday visiting lots of wonderful friends.  A blood test on the Monday morning to check all was OK and we were on our way.  Also coming along with us was the recent heatwave!  We started by taking the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento, then went across the peninsular to Ballnaring, up to the Yarra Valley, across to Seymour and then back down to Melbourne and home.

Part of Pippa’s treatment plan is actually to be as normal as possible and have fun.  Her oncologist has spent a lot of time with Pippa and quickly realised  how much she gets out of life.  We often seem to be sitting in front of him with a bit of a smirk on our faces knowing that he will roll his eyes, shake his head at her and just end up saying, “Well, did you have fun young lady?”

Our next visit will be no exception.  Pippa has listed her favourite things she did on our holiday……..

Going on the inflatable behind the boat at Sorrento

Driving the John Deer and riding the horse at Ballnaring

Relaxing in the creek and swimming in the dam at King Lake

Getting thrown around the pool at Tallarook

Rock Climbing in Melbourne

She scaled 18 metres with ease.  Her brothers were considerably impressed but I was not surprised at all to look around the room and only see one pint sized rock climber 3 storeys high!  Pippa has no fear and will always give anything a go (and is usually pretty good at it too!).

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