First Wednesday Club: In memory of Indigo


They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and right now I can only think of Julie Cowdroy as being one of the strongest people that I know. She is also the motivation and the reason we have chosen The Cure for Life Foundation for today’s First Wednesday Club

Many Mamamia readers will know Julie from her incomparable election coverage on Mamamia, her amazing singing voice and her tireless work in fighting against poverty. But few of you will know what heart ache Julie has endured this year.

Two years ago Julie’s father underwent a lung transplant, you can read about that here. Sadly 20 months later he died. Julie also lost her uncle earlier this year but a tragedy that no-one could have foreseen was the death of Julie’s 7 year old niece Indigo.

Her brother Mark works with Sunrise and wrote this heartbreaking email at the time of Indigo’s death

On the 19th March 2011 Indigo Piaf Ulbricht fell in to a coma at our house, due to an undetected Brain Cancer. When your daughter is in that kind of condition road rules and speed limits are not on the table.

We got to the hospital and the doctors were immediately concerned.

They took Indi in for a CAT Scan. A short time later they said that there was a dark spot on her brain.

Jaq (my wife) and I were stunned we thought “How bad?, What can we do?, Can we fix it?, Can You fix it?, Just Help Her Please!!”

Indigo Piaf Ulbricht

There was a few more sentences coming out of his mouth, but to me they were meaningless words, I was in shock, what did this mean, then came two words I did understand.. “Brain Cancer”. Although I don’t know much about Brain cancer I do know that its Very Very Bad.

At 630am Indigo and Jaq flew to the Children’s Hospital in Randwick by the Amazing service of the Child Care Flight. I drove down the freeway in the pouring rain. In tears, Praying to God. I found myself calling my mum and dad on the way down to the Children’s Hospital. I remember telling them I can’t fix it.. I can’t fix it!! As a dad this was very hard, cause to Indigo I was Superman, I can help her when she falls, I can help her with her homework.

I had all the answers. But I just couldn’t fix it.

When I got to Randwick, Indigo was already in surgery. The neurosurgeon came out and said we have relieved the pressure from her brain however (I didn’t want to hear a “however”) the brain tumour is 5cm by 7cm (this is not an adult, this is a 7 year old little girl).

Indigo was still in a coma and was on a life support machine. We watched and cried all day Saturday, Saturday Night and on Sunday at 12 noon, the chief doctor told us that she was clinically dead. They allowed us to keep the Life Support on for another day.

The hardest thing I will ever have to do in my life, will not even come close to what Jaq and I had to do next. We had to say to the Doctors.. “Turn the Life Support Off.” 5 Words.

And on Monday Indigo was gone from us. Just 3 days earlier I was chatting and singing with her, telling her “on the weekend, we will take the training wheels off your bike”.

The most awful pain and heartbreak ever.

In spite of this overwhelming pain and grief Mark and his wife Jacqui have worked tirelessly to raise money into brain cancer research. Last week they hosted the Indigo Piaf Charity Auction and raised over $75k for the Cure for Life Foundation.

And this week the First Wednesday Club is asking you to donate to the Cure for Life Foundation.

Not many people know that brain tumours are the most common, life threatening tumours in children. What’s more, behind Leukemia. they’re the most common of all childhood cancers. Perhaps the most worrying this is unlike so many other forms of cancer, the incidence of brain cancer is increasing. Whilst advances in neurosurgery are giving many people a better chance to beat brain tumours, still more can and must be done.

The Cure for Life Foundation was established in 2003 by world-renowned neuro-surgeon, Dr Charles Teo, to help fund advancements in the treatment of brain cancer, hopefully one day leading to a cure. The more funds that are raised, the more the Cure for Life Foundation can to to help find a cure for this terrible condition.

You can visit Indigo’s website here and make a donation to the Cure for Life Foundation here. Donations over $2 are tax deductible

You may also want to leave messages of support for Julie and her family

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