I'm fundraising for my niece, Josephine.
As written by Josephine's mother, Penny Watts (Seymour):
'One day our beautiful, healthy 20 month old daughter Josephine was tearing around, the next she started vomiting. Quite random vomiting in the morning only. Diagnosed first as nothing; then a possible bladder infection; more vomiting more regularly meant we did a scope and gastritis was then indicated. Finally, after four weeks of vomiting, back and forth between doctors, in and out of hospital we did an MRI of her brain. There it was. In the doctor’s words " a large aggressive tumour" in her posterior fossa. She had developed hydrocephalus as a result and the tumour was pushing her brain stem triggering her vomiting.
We spent the following month in Red Cross Children's Hospital after a 7 hour surgery, where the highly skilled team of Doctors had removed a tumour the size of a small orange - this was roughly 85% of it. The remainder was left due to the risks involved in taking it out as the tumour had enveloped critical neuro-vascular structures.
Slowly our Josephine has started to recover. Her gross motor skills have been affected and she has a palsy on the right side of her face - the latter of which may or may not improve with time. But by the Grace of God you get through one day at a time, and that is how you start to live and regroup. Because once you start to learn more about cancer and brain tumours and her specific diagnosis (Anaplastic ependymoma) you realise you are only a fraction of the way through. That the hospitals and the removal of the tumour is just the beginning. But through it all you slowly begin to cling onto hope - that our Josephine will be one of the lucky ones. Because there are lucky ones - you have to have faith.
And there has been hope along the way: her most recent MRI revealed a stable residual with no new abnormalities and no spread to the spine. And so we begin our next step in our Journey: Radiation Therapy. The type of radiation that they offer here in South Africa (although highly advanced) still presents a risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue which is exacerbated in such a young child's brain that is still growing. It has been possibly one of the most challenging parts of our journey so far: the fact that radiation will kill the remaining tumour and Josephine will be cured - but the doctors cannot say what the long term neurological fall out will be- 3 months; 3 years ; or possibly even as long as 13 years down the line. We needed another alternative. And so we began to look: Proton Therapy was a treatment that kept on appearing in our search.
Proton Therapy is a type of radiation with the main benefit being that it does not damage the healthy surrounding tissue but is able to target and kill the tumour cells. http://www.proton-therapy.org/facts.htm
Unfortunately, this therapy is not available in South Africa but is increasingly being used as the treatment of choice in paediatrics overseas - especially brain tumours- due to its specific benefits.
After much research we have been accepted for Proton Therapy at WPE in Essen Germany. The cost of the treatment alone is 84,000 Euro. We also have to factor in the accommodation; flights and living in Germany for 6-8 weeks during the treatment process which would total up to just below 100 000 Euro.
Any parent - anywhere in the world - would want to do the best treatment for their child, that would offer the best possible outcome for their future. If you are able to help in any way, please make a donation to support the cost of Josephine’s treatment. Your contribution will help make her future be the brightest it can.'