Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

What a Little Star

Chips and Trains the greyhound named for and by Pippa yet born nearly 18 months after she passed away is proving himself to be a surprising star.  Our expectations for him were never anything more than to run in Pippa’s memory, with the racing name she had chosen, to create awareness for children’s brain cancer and hopefully raise a little money for research at the same time.

Pippa was so proud of every time she went out to the kennels to help Chris and Linda with the dogs,  especially the pups.  It was her job.  In November 2014, a week before Pippa started needing to use a wheelchair we were at the Royal Children’s Hospital.  She was getting blood tests, choosing a wheelchair (for the inevitable) which she was not happy about at all (until James and Patrick showed her all the fun that wheelchairs could provide) and getting fitted for a radiation mask at Peter Mac for the second time in her short life.

Walking through RCH we saw Ricky Ponting.  Should we go up and say hello and ask for a photo?  Why not?  We could ask him about cricket and tell him about how much Pippa’s Tony enjoyed cricket.  Pippa however had other things she wanted to talk about…  We respectfully approached him and said hello asking him if he would mind having a photo.  Before cricket was even mentioned Pippa happily told Ricky that years earlier she had patted and looked after his dog at Linda’s kennels.  Not exactly the comment he was expecting from a 10 year old girl at all!   We eventually had the mandatory chat about cricket and he also talked about the Ponting Foundation and mentioned how proud he was to support the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.  Little did I know then that I would now be so closely connected with Murdoch via Pippa’s Trust we hold at the Tumour Tissue Bank. The surprised smile on his face when Pippa told him about looking after his dog was just priceless – it will stay with me as one of our many memories of Pippa!

When Chippa started racing in May Linda sent me a photo of a beautiful drawing that Pippa had done one day to leave in her kennels.  It’s perfect.  It shows the correct layout of everything.  The kennels, the nursery were the pups are born and cared for until they’re old enough to go outside, the house, the van and even the gate that has to be kept closed!  I particularly love the detail of Pippa and Linda drawn there looking after the pups and equally the names of all the pups and their mum.  It must have been one of the first litters she wrote names for I think.

Chips and Trains is now the 2018 WA All Stars Champion and the 2018 WA Young Stars Champion.  I just love watching all his winning races, but I do especially enjoy the All Stars Final – in the Red #1.  he doesn’t give up!

Even though we did not start with any expectations at all, he is first and foremost running to raise awareness in Pippa’s memory.  Brain Cancer kills more children than any other disease.  80% of children will die within 5 years.  90% of survivors are left with lifelong physical and mental impairments.  Children with a DIPG (the type Pippa had) have an average survival of 9 months.  These statistics have not changed in 30 years meaning Pippa did not even have a chance.  The odds were not in her favour at all.   These odds need to change.

Awareness = Money = Research = Better Outcomes = One Day a Cure.

For donations made in Pippa’s memory…

RCD Foundation Brain Cancer Research

Chips and Trains is providing us with a little bit of fun and happiness – we are grateful for this and enjoying his ride!  Pippa would be thrilled that Chippa is such a lovely greyhound and that he is running around under full moons and fireworks winning races in her memory.  She didn’t want anyone to forget her; she was so scared that would happen.  She would love that people who have never met her have now come to know her through Chips and Trains.  She would love that people love him, follow him and cheer him on.  She would love that he’s putting smiles on faces.  She would especially love that Chippa seems exactly like her – a beautiful personality, affectionate and always wanting cuddles, everyone’s friend and a bit of a free spirit with a love for running!

I know that if Pippa were alive she would be ringing Chris and Linda every day making sure someone was cuddling him for her.  What a little star he is with a special pair of angel wings on his back!

Chips and Trains “Chippa”

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Chips and Trains

The story of Pippa, her love of visiting and looking after greyhound pups, a little friend who missed her when she was away for treatment and finally, a dog named by her and racing in her memory…

Best told by someone other than me and thus, as written by Molly Haines here in the latest issue of Greyhound Monthly    of how Chips and Trains (affectionately known as Chippa) came to beChips_and_Trains_Instagram_or_FB_profile_Black

It’d be a bit fun for Chippa to become a well loved dog all around the country and have Pippa remembered through him.  Another way I can keep my heartbreaking promise to Pippa that people won’t forget her.  In the end that was her biggest fear and I can still feel the tears on our faces when she pleaded with me to not let that happen.

He’s got himself an Instagram account (follow @chipsandtrains) and proceeds from his winnings are donated to brain cancer research

Go Chippa” you are bringing us a bit of fun and Pippa would absolutely love you

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Nibbles

Nibbles came to us Christmas 4 years ago…..

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He fixed tummy aches, he joined birthday parties and they shared countless punnets of blueberries.  Pippa used to tell him he had a very fat bottom!

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Since the 28th March 2015 he has provided comfort and love and sometimes has even mistakenly been called Pippa.  He would knock on the door to get let in and without fail he would hop up to Pippa’s bedroom.  Every Single Time!  The first thing he did after she left us was to paw and snif at her bagful of clothes.  We have often found him on her bed, with her teddies, playing with her yellow dancing costume and just sitting or sleeping in her room.  He ate every flower that ever entered the vicinity of our back yard except for Yellow Jonquils planted for Pippa – those he would just sit in amongst and sometimes rub his chin on.  He has been known to sit up at the back of the couch and stare at the photo of him and her on our wall – no kidding!

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This Christmas he hopped into Pippa’s room one last time and went to his favourite sleeping spot beside her bag of clothes and her school bag.  He knew exactly what was happening and precisely where he needed to be.  He went to sleep peacefully, I left a candle on all night and he didn’t wake up.

We buried him in our back yard that he had so much joy in.  He is sleeping forever with a carrot, a flower and 2 photos of Pippa, but he is now hopping, running crazily and laughing forever in Pippa’s beautiful heaven….

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Pippa’s Heaven

Darling Nibbles and Darling Pippa……every single day hurts

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Blooms of Yellow

It is so beautiful to see Pippa’s Pots bursting into yellow blooms!  The boys and I love receiving all the photos that everyone is sending us.  All the same but all so different with   many reminding us of Pippa’s long legs.  Some are indoors, some outside.  Some bloomed early and some are still waiting.  Some pots even bloomed on special significant days.  It truly is beautiful.  And for us it is comforting that these pots are bringing smiles to everyone – smiles for Pippa.

The bulbs in front of our house that Pippa planted in 2012 have been blooming continuously – each single bulb is now a large clump of many bulbs.  They have been able to provide us with vases of yellow jonquils inside the house and beside Pippa’s bed every week since they started to bloom.  The bulbs in the Pippa Pots will multiply meaning that each autumn they can be dug up and moved to a garden bed whilst still leaving one in the pot.

 

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The bulbs Pippa planted in 2012 – each clump starting from one bulb

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So many beautiful blooms

The most incredible story that is happening for us though is Nibbles.  Nibbles likes to bolt lightening fast into the house the minute the door is open and he then casually hops up to Pippa’s bedroom where he sniffs around and just hangs out until he’s ready to hop back out to the garden.  I even had to unzip a bag of her clothes that was under her bed because he would just sit there and paw at them.  Anyone who witnesses him doing this is pretty much left speechless.

However, as far as the jonquils are concerned Nibbles’ actions are just as spine chilling. When we first got Nibbles it was very apparent we could not grow anything – herbs, veggies, flower pots, even our chilli plant were all (“Nibbled”) eaten.  Flowers we have been sent all go to the back yard for Nibbles to enjoy between the house and the green bin. He’s not fussy, he eats them all leaving just the stalks.  In fact, Nibbles has even received his own delivery of flowers to happily nibble on!

When we were doing the pots up James wanted to plant some bulbs in a patch of dirt that Nibbles liked to roll around in…..none of us were too hopeful that they would get past the sprouting stage.  One day I saw Nibbles in the dirt with the green shoots certain he was eating them.  On closer investigation James reported that no, Nibbles was only scratching his neck on them.  Pippa used to pat him on his face and under his neck and he would go to sleep while she did it.

Incredibly Nibbles has left these flowers to bloom tall doing nothing more than sitting next to them.  Patrick once asked that perhaps if we became buddhist would Pippa be able to be reincarnated as Nibbles when she died?  We didn’t need to convert, but we all feel that Pippa is very much in Nibbles.

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The Waiting Game

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting……..

Again I wait.  This time because the post radiation scan cannot be used and needs to be regarded as a pseudo scan; the radiotherapy is still working in Pippa’s brain and thus the scans were distorted.  Now we just wait longer for a time when the scan can be certain to be clear of radiation.  After seven weeks of huge levels, this was not unexpected but Pippa looks and is so great it’s a bit disheartening and would have been just lovely to have something medically sound to validate her external signs.

This is what I have learnt recently:

  1. Sleep is important for every part (other than the golf ball in her brainstem) of Pippa’s body to stay healthy
  2. Really bad belly pain caused by nasty doses of chemo drugs is best dealt with heating one of Nan’s snuggle sacks and lying on the couch under a gorgeous, soft, snuggly aqua rug (by the way, yellow now seems to have overtaken aqua!)
  3. Nausea is most likely cured by cranking up Taylor Swift and singing (sometimes even dancing) your heart out – breathing and distraction!
  4. A vomit, if it’s going to come, should not to be confused with nausea and although it doesn’t happen often, when it does, grab the big purple bucket as quickly as possible.  It will be fast and furious, but will no doubt end with a big smile 🙂
  5. It is what it is and there will be twists and turns; peaks and troughs.  It will change the way I am but I can’t change it.  Our journey is not a path already planned or plotted;  we have no map to follow, no guide book and no directions.  I am being led by Pippa’s oncologist and follow one step behind him.  He is guided by Pippa.  So far she is doing an incredible job of leading us through the maze.

I don’t look too far ahead.  I stay in the present and deal with each day as it comes.  I am there whenever and wherever my children need me.  As a family I will take the opportunities that present themselves to create memories and experiences for us.  I am used to doing things quickly, taking control and getting the job done.  This is different.  There was urgency before Pippa’s diagnosis.  For now, I need to be calm and patient.  I need to wait.

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