My daughter, Ariana (Ari) was diagnosed with a germinoma brain tumour in June 2015, when she was 17, midway through her HSC. She was a very good athlete and middle-distance runner but then her memory started to go, and her running started going downhill. She became very quiet and stopped going out with friends. Something was clearly very wrong. I think Ari probably had the tumour for nearly six months before anyone picked it up. Our lovely GP finally suggested an MRI and that’s when we found out Ari had a massive frontal lobe tumour; it was amazing that she had been able to function at all.
It was such sudden shocking news. Even though we knew something was going on, the diagnosis just slammed into us. Within three days, Ari was being operated on with a very uncertain prognosis. Our world shrank to the confines of intensive care and yet we were surrounded by such a wide network of love and care. The humanity and care shown by the doctors and nurses was extraordinary.
The first six months was a blur of surgery, chemo, and radiotherapy and Ari was in hospital for about four and a half months. She finally came home not long after her 18th birthday. Then, in late December 2015, she went to Royal Ryde Rehab as an outpatient.
The only way to survive was to live minute by minute, day by day; it’s just as well you don’t know what’s coming. If you had told me in those early days that Ari would still be in active therapy five years later, I wouldn’t have believed it.
I had been trekking in Nepal several times many years ago and the main thing I learnt from the Sherpas was never to focus on the top of the mountain as we were hiking, rather, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And that has become a guiding principle in my life.