Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

Challenge Fair

The Challenge Fair was very different this year in comparison to what it was last year.  The fair itself was still amazing – an array of rides, food, drinks, activities and Christmas presents for all the children.  A very generous event from the team at Challenge.  The sun was shining again and we took Claudia and Will along with us as our “family”.  The difference this year was that Pippa could not run around like all the other children from one ride to the next; her smile only appeared a couple of times rather than being permanently planted on her face.  James and Patrick were her pillars – by her side all the time.

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Taylor Swift

When I was very first pregnant with James 14 years ago I was told by a friend your children will take you to your highest highs and your lowest lows but they are the most wonderful thing that will ever happen to you.  I had no idea how extreme these highs and lows would be and how right he was.

Yesterday was a highly anticipated day as we were going to the Taylor Swift ‘Red’ Concert and Pippa was a lucky girl; one of four little girls chosen by Challenge to meet Taylor.

A red dress and a red flower hairpiece were arranged.  A little bracelet was made by a friend as a gift – one for Pippa and one for Taylor.  An autograph book and pen were on hand. All was set, what a day it was going to be!

We woke in the morning to a bit of blood smeared across Pippa’s face and a slight blood nose – James wondered if Pippa was perhaps going a little too far with the Red theme!

We drove to the RCH with ice and tissues.  Blood tests were done and an emergency blood platelet transfusion was ordered.  Pippa was not pale and lethargic, she was literally running around the hospital whilst we were waiting.  The nurses and doctors knew about the date with Taylor and explained to Pippa she needed to have safe blood to be able to meet her.  

Plans were changed and we got ready for the concert in the emergency department.  There was a point were I didn’t know if we would make it in time and if we would would still be able to meet her.  Challenge were so supportive and communicated everything with Taylor’s management to please still let Pippa come to meet her

The hospital rushed through the transfusion to as fast as it could go.  We were late but Taylor waited for Pippa and what a beautiful time it was.  Special cuddles with a world superstar.  Taylor told Pippa how gorgeous she looked in her dress and how pretty the yellow strap on the bracelet was (Pippa’s new favourite colour).  Pippa was so happy.  I, on the other hand, was still pulling myself together just from getting there and wondering how much can one mother bear?

The concert was an amazing spectacle and every song was sung along to.  Taylor has been on this journey with us from the start.  Her songs have been sung through the highs and the lows.  She can get rid of  nausea and now also is capable of making blood transfusions bearable.

What concert, what a superstar, what a girl….peaks and troughs; what a day!


A Christmas Carnival

I remind my children that if Pippa hadn’t developed a tumour in her brain there would be many opportunities we would have otherwise never experienced.  To take these opportunities and embed them in our family’s memory is the silver lining I compel myself to grasp onto during this time of trepidation.

One of these opportunities was our first experience in attending an organised event for families of children with cancer.  It was the Challenge Christmas Party.

In all honesty, I was nervous and hesitant.  There were times leading up to Saturday when I wished I had not committed to going or I could come up with an excuse to cancel our attendance.  I think subconsciously I was expecting to see signs up around many of the rides saying something along the lines of, “If your child has a tumour in her brain please don’t let her go on this ride……or this ride……..or that ride……….”

I think I was also expecting that I was going to be surrounded by “sick” looking children.  Pippa doesn’t look remotely sick and I was struggling thinking I would be placing us in a psychological space we don’t need to be in at the moment and potentially taking away our positive outlook.

How wrong I was!

Our expectations were indeed exceeded.  The carnival rides were numerous – as were the screams of excitement and terror!   Food, drink and ice cream were all in abundance.  Smiles were spread across the faces of children and parents everywhere and I certainly couldn’t tell which children had cancer and which ones didn’t.  Nor, I realised later, did the thought even enter my mind to look.  There were no ride police checking what “type of cancer” Pippa had before allowing her on.  Instead, there was freedom to run, laugh, eat what you like, drink what you like and be totally ordinary in an extraordinary environment that every child dreams of.

The day ended with incredibly generous Christmas presents and my children begging me to promise them we can go again next year.

Thank you Challenge for an awesome kick-off to the Christmas season and for showing me that we can participate in these type of events with ease. (And rather handy that her neurosurgeon gave her the OK to do summersaults and cartwheels again the day before!)


What a Girl

Wow! What a week for Pippa! What a happy, strong and determined girl she is. The smile is permanently planted on her face.

Pippa’s not able to have chemo so we’re waiting again to see what happens next week, but at the moment, who cares???? She’s happy, seems as fit as a fiddle, is at school and when told she had to go back to the Royal Children’s Hospital next Monday she as quick as a flash told her doctor, “Oh no, not me, I’ll be on school camp!” It’s Pippa’s first ever school camp and there is no way she is going to miss it. I already knew that if chemo clashed with it I would be packing it up and taking it along and just dealing with what would happen. I’m slightly glad I don’t have the stress of having to do that! A little bit of negotiation with her doctor and me and Pippa agreed to us driving down Wednesday morning not missing out on one minute of camp because of some silly old tumour in her brain!

Next, I had the pleasure of telling Pippa she is off to see Taylor Swift when she plays in Melbourne in December! We were in the waiting room for the eye specialist and she couldn’t contain her excitement! The smile is still on her face and she mentioned it to no one at school until she could share it at show and tell today! Big news!!!

Who's happy to be going to see Taylor Swift???

Who’s happy to be going to see Taylor Swift???

Then tonight she surpassed all my expectations yet again. Truly an incredible and inspiring little girl! James is currently studying the Great Barrier Reef and its threats. I showed him the website www.fightforthereef.org.au. I suggested to Pippa that she have a look at it as well and that there is a section on the website where she might like to share her story to save and protect the Great Barrier Reef. Pippa quietly sat on the couch and wrote this all by herself:

My Reef Story – Save the Great Barrier Reef

Dear Federal Goverment, I have been on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef recently. I would really hope that you don’t destroy it because I would really like other children to go. I hope that it doesn’t get destroy because it’s an amazing adventure and experience for everyone. I’ve got a fair few reasons and they are

1. The reef is a beautiful place
2. The GBR is very colourful and calm
3.you’ll destroy all the animals territory’s
4.you’ll defiantly destroy the hearts of people
And that’s all the reasons. So please don’t hurt and harm the fish,turtles,reef sharks. I don’t want you to particularly harm or hurt the anemones or coral. Cause I don’t know if you know but I do. Anemones and coral are never able to move ever they always stay in the same spot. I’m nine and nine months old and I know that everyone has a dream. Even all the poor people have a dream. Some of them might have a dream to see the Great Barrier Reef and by the time they’ve got enough money to go and see it you would have already destroyed it. But you’re not just hurting the animals but ruining everyone’s dreams. I hope you’re feeling great what you’re doing. I know I’m not feeling great and I defiantly think that others are horrified,disappointed,sad,destroyed, hurt and much more emotional terrible feelings. Don’t Hurt The Reef. I love the reef and you should love it as much as I do. From Pippa Rea
I’ve got a blog if you’re interested it is http://www.pipparea.wordpress.com

Pippa has again blown me away while simultaneously bringing tears to my eyes.

Sometimes I find myself thinking that if Pippa didn’t have this awful tumour in her brain there would be so much I wouldn’t know about my little family.


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