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Victoria Fitzgerald

$7,888 of AUD $5,000 target.

Raised by 0 people in days for The Pirate Ship Foundation Ltd

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Jenny Manners

Victoria Fitzgerald

Story

October 21st 2019 is an important date this year. It will mark 6 years since we were told our beautiful Abigail (then 4 ½) had brain cancer. And if this year goes as it should, it will also mean she is 5 years post-treatment, and therefore considered “cured”….. of the brain cancer anyway…… 


When she was first diagnosed, she endured a gruelling regime of treatment - 8 1/2 hours of surgery to remove most of the tumour, 31 radiation treatments (delivered daily under general anaesthetic), and 6 months of chemotherapy; together with countless infusions, transfusions and fighting infections continually.


Despite the fact that she is firstly – here; but also kind, witty (sometimes cheeky), brave, strong – and generally my hero - her treatment has comes at a heavy cost. There’s not a single area of her body not impacted. She needs hearing aids and started her summer holidays with cataract surgery to her right eye (she’s having the left one done when school starts). She needs daily injections of growth hormone to grow. Her other hormones will need artificially restraining or stimulating (there’s a high chance she’s infertile as well). Her thyroid is shrivelled so she’s on tablets for that. She’s permanently lost hair and about 30% of her taste, and some ability to swallow. She has been diagnosed with a disability – an acquired brain injury, which basically means she has neurocognitive impairment making it harder to learn, play and sometimes communicate and keep up with what’s happening around her mentally as well as physically. She is becoming increasingly aware of her differences and will often tell me how she wishes she was like everyone else (after everything she’s been through, this one breaks my heart more than anything). This doesn’t magically get better or go away over time. So many people assume that cancer free means everything is ok – and while so many of her symptoms are manageable, I believe that no child (or their families) should go through this – and that there has to be a better way. 


I believe this so much that starting October 21st this year, I will be attempting one of the world’s most iconic treks through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area together with 9 incredible team mates, who I am so grateful to have standing by my side as we take this on. The trek covers 65km over 6 days through some of the most stunning bushland Australia has to offer, summiting both Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa (the tallest mountain in Tasmania), the trek ends at Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in Australia. There is no doubt that despite the lovely scenic walk this sounds like, it’s not a simple stroll through the bush. For some of us, simply the challenge of roughing it in tents with no running water is enough! 


This is being done for The Adventurers, an initiative of the Pirate Ship Foundation. This organisation raises funds for vital research to discover better treatment options for children with brain cancer and ultimately a cure. You can read more here: www.pirateshipfoundation.com.au.  


Specifically though, the funds we raise in doing this adventure will be sent to a new project undertaken by this team. They will study a new treatment aimed at teaching the body’s immune system to recognise cancer cells and attack them as they would for a viral infection. If successful, this approach has the potential to be less damaging than other treatments, resulting in a much improved quality of life for children during and after therapy. 


To get such a project underway – we aim to raise a minimum of $50,000 - but of course the more we can raise the better!


Any contribution big or small, would be amazing as I know how heartfelt it is and all donations over $2 are tax deductible. 


A massive thankyou and wishing you all the best - and every health and happiness to you and yours for the coming year!


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        The Pirate Ship Foundation Ltd

        The Pirate Ship Foundation is a bold and passionate community that funds vital research into childhood brain cancer through a range of initiatives, adventures, events and partnerships.
         
        Childhood brain cancer kills more Australian children than any other disease.
         
        The identification of improved treatment options for children with brain cancer is our primary objective, ultimately leading to a cure.
         
        We believe it is important for our community to understand the impacts of a brain cancer diagnosis to a child and their family.  Even in the best possible cases, treatments are so damaging to a developing brain that they leave shocking, irreversible and life long-side effects.
         
        We know that together we can support research that will deliver better outcomes and make a significant difference to those children and their families.
         
        Funds are invested directly into childhood brain cancer research programs, including to the Brain Tumour Research Program at Telethon Kids Institute in Perth.
         
        To learn more about the Foundation and to get on board with how you can help – head to
        www.pirateshipfoundation.com.au or contact us at ahoy@pirateshipfoundation.com.au.

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        Victoria Fitzgerald

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