News in 5: Girl, 4, lost 80% of her skin; Tribute for mum who died on cruise ship; Trump “morally unfit”.

Video via Nine News

1. A young cancer survivor is recovering after losing 80 per cent of her skin to a heartbreaking infection.


Avery Beal on the Sunshine Coast has been fighting disease almost her entire life.

In August 2014, when she was 11 months old, Avery was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a “shockingly common form of blood cancer, and a diagnosis that turned our lives upside down,” her father, David Beal wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Now, after years of treatment, the little one is cancer-free but she’s been admitted to hospital with a painful skin condition, which David believes is Scalded Skin Syndrome, as well as a bout of chickenpox.

“She is wrapped from the neck down so we can only see her face and one patch on her hip a little bigger than a 50 cent coin other than that she is covered in burns dressings,” David posted to Facebook on Saturday.

She had lost 80 per cent of her skin, was breathing through a ventilator, and in constant pain, David added.

Avery Beal. Image via Facebook.
Avery Beal. Image via Facebook.

After her Leukaemia diagnosis in 2014, Avery underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in April 2015. Months later, in August 2015, she was forced to undergo another round of "less invasive" treatment after the cancer returned.

Still, in October 2016 she suffered a "total relapse" and was admitted to a hospital in Brisbane where she stayed for seven months before receiving a second bone marrow transplant in March 2017.

Advertisement

Finally, the cancer has gone - and will hopefully stay gone - but this last infection shows just how compromised Avery's immune system is.

"One of the tests that they initially did has come back positive for chickenpox. Avery’s body after so much chemo and a transplant doesn’t have the ability to fight this off so Avery has been put on medication to help her with this," David's Facebook post reads.

"Our other problem is infection. Avery has a high temp so they are thinking there is an infection somewhere but not sure where. We are testing as many different things as possible and she is on lots of different antibiotics to give her good coverage."

Throughout all this David and Avery's mum, Jen, plus their five other children have been travelling back and forward from the Sunshine Coast to the hospital in Brisbane.

Thankfully, last night doctors finally unwrapped Avery and her skin is looking "better than we expected".

"Avery had almost all of her dressings taken off in theatre today and her skin is looking much better than expected," David posted to social media yesterday evening.

"Avery has remained stable and we hope to lower her sedation and pain medication over night with the plan to take her off the ventilator in the morning.

To donate to help support Avery and her family, see their GoFundMe page here.

2. Woman who took her own life on cruise ship "didn't want to hurt her family".


Natasha Schofield and her family. Image via Channel Nine.

Brisbane woman Natasha Schofield, 47, who took her own life by falling overboard from the Pacific Dawn cruise ship last week must have arrived in a "dark and desperate place very quickly", her friend says.

The mum-of-three had been at dinner with her husband before she was lost overboard around 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia on Thursday afternoon.

She had been aboard with her two daughters and son aged 12-to-16, as well as her husband.

"Tash would never intentionally hurt her husband or children, her family or friends," friend Damon Smith posted to Facebook, News Corp reports.

"Everything that has happened on that boat is the complete opposite to what she would ever want — so I say she must have arrived in a very dark and desperate place in her mind very very quickly."

According to Smith, Schofield's husband said her behaviour only seemed to change in the last 24 hours of her life and, though he asked her if "she was okay", she assured him she was fine.

"What if some one says they are okay but they’re not — how can we change that part?" Smith asked, before adding he "can't do without" Schofield, News Corp reports.

"She has been there for me in various ways starting from crashing my wedding party to caring for my children a thousand times," he wrote.

"I trust her with my life. That generous girl I know only strives to help others and make life happier — she has made me a better person absolutely."

After the woman fell, her husband immediately raised the alarm and the ship turned around as a search began but to no avail.

As passengers disembarked at Brisbane on Sunday morning, police Inspector Rob Graham confirmed the nature of the tragedy.

"This wasn't an accident," he said, AAP reports.

"Let's be open and honest about mental health."

"It's a tragic end to what should've been a lifetime holiday experience for a loving family," he said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

3. Trump "morally unfit for office" and open to blackmail from Russia, former FBI Director declares.


James Comey and Donald Trump. Images via Getty.

Former FBI director James Comey says that US President Donald Trump is a dangerous, morally unfit leader doing tremendous damage to institutional norms.

Comey, fired by Trump in May last year, was worried the president may be open to blackmail by Russia.

Comey's firing came as the Federal Bureau of Investigation was probing possible connections between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia's meddling in the American elections.

Russia has denied interfering in the election and Trump has denied any collusion or improper activity.

Comey said in the interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, which aired on Sunday night that it is "possible, but I don't know" whether Russia has evidence to back up the allegations about Trump's Moscow trip.

"A person ... who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that's not a policy statement," Comey said.

"He is morally unfit to be president," he added.

Comey has a tell-all book, "Higher Loyalty," due out on Tuesday.

The book's imminent release - and the slated ABC News interview - prompted Trump to hurl a new set of insults at Comey earlier on Sunday, challenging accusations made in the book, and insisting that he never pressed Comey to be loyal to him.

"Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!" Trump wrote early on Sunday in one of five Twitter posts aimed directly at Comey.

4. 19yo pleads guilty to possessing child pornography after 14yo sends him unsolicited nude images.


boy on iphone smartphone
Image via Getty.

A young Victorian man pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography after a 14-year-old girl sent him naked photos of herself on Facebook, AAP reports.

The man, who was 18 at the time, did not ask for the pictures, and after receiving them he made efforts to distance himself from the girl.

But he did not delete the photos and was charged after police seized his phone in an unrelated search concerning his father.

The 19-year-old was sentenced without conviction in the County Court on Monday and ordered to be of good behaviour for 12 months.

The judge said it was a "very unusual" case and at the lowest end of those for child pornography.

"The undeniable fact is you did not ask for these images to be sent. They were sent by (the girl) of her own volition," the judge said.

"You became aware that this seemed to indicate she was keen on you, and you tried to distance yourself."

The young man, who can't be named to protect the girl's identity, told authorities he had forgotten about the images.

But as an adult it was his responsibility to delete the images, the judge said.

"And in the end that is your crime, the fact you did not delete them from your phone," she said.

The judge decided not to convict the young man, noting life may be more difficult with a criminal record.

5. Israel Folau offered to quit the Wallabies after making homophobic comments ahead of the same sex marriage survey.


Israel Folau of the Wallabies. Image via Getty.

Israel Folau has revealed he offered to walk away from his Rugby Australia contract in the wake of his controversial comments on homosexuality and that tension remains with the game's administration over the issue.

The Wallabies fullback wrote a lengthy piece on sports website Players Voice on Monday night, AAP reports, addressing the fallout from his Instagram message and reiterating his deep religious convictions.

Folau said that in a meeting last week with RA chief executive Raelene Castle and Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore, he gave his bosses the option to sack him.

"I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable - that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn't be worked through - I would walk away from my contract, immediately," Folau wrote..

"This is not about money or bargaining power or contracts. It's about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be," he said.

But before Castle attempts to negotiate a new deal for Australia's most potent attacker before next year's World Cup in Japan, she will need to resolve the friction Folau still feels remains over the social media saga.

"I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments, and did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia," wrote Folau.

Following last Tuesday's meeting, Castle conceded that it was a difficult issue "trying to combine religious beliefs, freedom of speech, inclusion, respect and the use of social media".

But now Castle and Folau seem to be in a stand-off, with the 29-year-old in-demand star repeating his devotion to the Bible's words.

"At times, you can feel alone and down. But Jesus told us that when you stand up for Him in this world, you can expect backlash. I find peace in that," said Folau.

Folau's original message on Instagram, which was deleted soon after, said that god's plan for gay people was "HELL".

6. Australians "too busy" or "too embarrassed" to take three-minute test for bowel cancer.


Image via Getty.

People are too busy to participate in the national bowel screening program even though the three-minute test could save their life.

Data released on Monday shows 40 per cent of respondents who received the free and potentially life-saving bowel cancer screening kits in 2017 did not use it.

Many said they ignored the test because they did not have the time.

Professor David Currow, Chief Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW says its critical older Australians take the test because bowel cancer can be successfully treated in 90 per cent of cases if detected early.

"So please don't leave these kits in your drawer or wait until you are experiencing symptoms," said Professor Currow.

A survey conducted by the Cancer Institute of New South Wales found 40 per cent of the respondents said they did not have time to do the three minute do-it-yourself test, while 15 per cent said they simply forgot.

Three per cent said embarrassment prevented them from taking it.

Christopher Horn, Bowel Cancer Screening Manager at Cancer Institute NSW says the test is "clean" and very quick.

Mr Horn warned having had a recent colonoscopy is not a safeguard and that screening is still essential.

The other important message, he says, is that people can have no symptoms and still have bowel cancer.

More than 16,000 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer every year.

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION