Most ‘C’ words people think of at Christmas time are those like 'Cheer' and 'Christmas' itself, the wonderful time of the year for being with family and friends and showing thanks for all that we have and the people we have in our lives. But it is with an extremely heavy heart that I say that another ‘C’ has rocked my family this Christmas, after 6 years in remission my youngest sister Marnee Millan now 17 years old, has again been diagnosed with The Big C, this time in her brain after a confirmed diagnoses on Thursday 16th December 2021.
Marnee was first diagnosed with cancer when she was just 10 years old, she fought it with chemotherapy and radiation and beat it, but it was a hard 10 month treatment plan for a 10 year old and she is now having to walk down this scary road once again.
Marnee at the beginning of treatment in 2015.
Marnee’s first battle with cancer started in 2015 at the tender age of 10 years, she was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma which is a cancer that develops from connective tissues in the body, such as muscles, fat, bones, the linings of joints, or blood vessels. In her case it was developed in the roof of her mouth and nose, causing respiratory issues.
Marnee during treatment in 2015.
Now December 2021, aged 17, Marnee has been diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is even more rare to get it in the brain and rarer again to get it in adolescence. The tumour is deep in the right side of her brain and unfortunately due to the location within the brain it is inoperable.
Marnee in 2021 before diagnosis.
On Friday the 10th of December 2021 just two weeks before Christmas, after 6 weeks of migraines and vomiting, two hospital visits and a trip to the GP, Marnee had a seizure. Witnessed by our sister Lexie, who was quick to call for an ambulance. Lexie said it was the scariest thing she has ever seen, watching her little sister go through that. Lexie rode with Marnee to the Rockhampton Base Hospital. Mum was called and was on her way from her work place 1.5 hours away. After a CT scan it was found Marnee had a mass of some description in her brain and swelling on the brain. After another two seizures in hospital Marnee was intubated and the decision was made to fly her to the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. So Saturday morning the 11th, with only one small bag with two sets of clothes mum went with her not knowing when they would be home.
RACQ Life Flight to Brisbane 11th Dec 2021.
As soon as they got to the Queensland Children’s Hospital Marnee was sent to theatre and had a EBD to drain her brain from fluid(drilled a hole in her skull), she was in ICU for 5 days until it was safe enough to reduce sedation, and has been up on the neurological ward since. More scans and a biopsy of the mass gave the diagnoses of ALCL.
Marnee after EBD Drain procedure & biopsy.
Marnee has weekness in her left side and some short term memory loss but, it will come back in time as the brain pressure is relieved and the cancer has shrunk after treatment. She is currently having physical therapy to help her walking and not dragging her feet, she needs help with showering and walking to the toilet.
She will to go back to theatre this week (20-24 December) to have a line put in for access for chemotherapy. A full treatment plan is yet to be developed.
Marnee and our mum Denise are in Brisbane for an unknown amount of time, possibly 12 months, whilst Marnee undergoes treatment. As you can imagine there is costs associated with every aspect of their plight. They are in Brisbane with basic accommodation and no transport. Eating well is an essential part of getting and staying healthy. As well as the bills that still have to be paid at home.
My Mum (Denise) is a single mother on a casual income which she now no longer receives due to not being able to work as she needs to be in Brisbane to look after and support Marnee during her treatment.
Please help us support Marnee and Mum with a donation or by sending them lots of love, prayers and well wishes.
Thank you for taking the time to read Marnee's story, please share with your friends and family so we can all help make this time just a little bit easier and less stressful. For those who would like to keep up to date with Marnee's treatment and progress we will be posting some updates along the road to recovery.
Marnee, Mum (Denise) and siblings (Adam, Jess, Lexie & me-Rieck) in happier times, September 2021.