By Nikki Rivett, Rylee’s mum
Nothing in this world will prepare you for a cancer diagnosis. And when that diagnosis is handed to your child you wish it was you instead.
I am a mother to a perfect little girl Rylee. We celebrated Rylee’s sixth birthday recently with cake, Peppa Pig and a ballet costume.
She’s a perfect, awesome child who loves life. You’d hardly know to look at her that she’s gone through rounds of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries for brain cancer.
Rylee was just 16 months old when she was diagnosed in 2010. One morning, I noticed she was slipping sideways in her highchair and the left side of her face looked a bit paralysed.
I was terrified. I rang our GP straight away who asked us to go directly to the hospital. I remember being really worried as she was just a tiny baby, but whoever expects brain cancer?
I took Rylee to have a MRI scan the next day and then the day after I received the news. She had an aggressive eight by eight centimetre brain tumour in her head.
What do you do when you’re told that? I remember feeling shock, horror, terror. It breaks your heart as a mother to believe that maybe it is because of something you did or even didn’t do.
Rylee went through four months of chemotherapy. She had three brain surgeries. She had a shunt put into her head and had about 30 sessions of radiation. She cried when they put needles into her and ripped dressings off. The pain was on her face as the poisonous drugs were pumped into her. And all this was done before she was three.
No kid should ever have to go through anything like that. I don’t even know many adults who would be able to handle that. But Rylee, well she had such a will to live. I could see it in her eyes. In the way she talked. In the way she smiled.
Over these years we went between hope, anger, fear and despair. Until you’re confronted with the worst news, you never think about your child dying. And so we didn’t. We kept that hope up and our positivity in check.