Charlotte's triumph against Brain Cancer

20 October 2023 | Expected time to read: 3 minutes

Charlotte is a typical teenager who adores soccer and spending time with friends. What sets her apart is her remarkable journey as a brain cancer survivor. Your generous support enables us to invest in preventing and managing childhood illnesses like cancer.

Charlotte, known as Charlie, began her battle with cancer at just fifteen months old when her parents, Rebecca and Rod, received the devastating news that their baby girl had a large, malignant brain tumour known as ependymoma, measuring one-third the size of her brain.

Ependymoma is the third most common paediatric brain tumour, primarily affecting children under five years of age, with it's cause remaining unknown. Charlie received treatment at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick under the care of Professor David Ziegler, and a team of specialists in the Kids Cancer Centre.

Charlie's life transformed into a series of tests, surgeries, chemotherapy, transfusions, and ambulance trips, with the Hospital becoming the family's second home.

Over 18 arduous months, Charlie endured 18 surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, infections, and seizures. Charlie's family were faced with the possiblility that the treatment might not work.

"There was so much uncertainty around Charlie's treatment and if it was working. She was physically exhausted and there were times when her little body just wasn't responding. We were also very aware that if the treatment didn't work, there were no other options and that was terrifying," said Rebecca.

Despite everything Charlie endured - her tumour began to shrink. With consistent follow-up appointments and surveillance over the next decade, Charlie is now cancer-free.

"Throughout her treatment, Charlie never gave up and never let cancer wear her down" Rebecca said. "We owe a lot of that to the incredible team of doctors, surgeons and nurses at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick - they were there with us every step of the way, ensuring Charlie received the best possible care."

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, last financial year Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation (SCHF) was able to fund a Nurse Educator at the Kids Cancer Centre for 12 months. The training provided by Nurse Educators means families like Charlie's can take comfort in knowing staff have the specialised skills they need to deliver evidence-base care at the bedside.

And now, our long-term unstoppable changemaker, Kids with Cancer Foundation, is funding a world-first clinical trial into ependymoma known as the 'Deflexifol at Relapse Trial, proudly supported by Kids with Cancer Foundation'. Led by Professor David Ziegler and Dr Marion Mateos at the Kids Cancer Centre this trial offers hope to children like Charlie facing this life-threatening cancer.

Dr. Marion Mateos believes the trial offers a new avenue of hope for these children.

Today, Charlie's spirit remains unbreakable, despite having long-term effects from treatment, such as mild deafness and cognitive delays. Her mum, Rebecca, proudly describes her as a survivor who looks forward to achieving greatness.

It's thanks to the support of our Movement of Many that SCHF is able to raise vital funds for the frontline of children's healthcare, ensuring that kids like Charlie continue to receive extraordinary care, now and into the future.

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To learn more about the different ways you can give or get involved with the Foundation and join our Movement of Many, click here.

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