A childhood cancer survivor has revealed why it took months for doctors to diagnose her with a brain tumour despite the numerous warning signs.
The parent’s of then five-year-old, Georgia, started to realise the Tasmanian kindergartener had started to become more uncoordinated, falling over toys and running into poles, and had developed a lazy eye.
The family’s GP said they had nothing to worry about and that her coordination would return when her ‘turned out’ eye re-corrects over time.
After eight months of no improvements and numerous doctors not knowing what was going on with the little girl, she was finally written a referral for an MRI.
The scan revealed Georgia’s symptoms were being caused by a cancerous tumour that had wrapped around her optical nerve and was spreading to her brain.
At five-years-old, Georgia (pictured) started to become uncoordinated and developed a lazy eye, with a GP telling her parents they had nothing to worry about
Georgia was rushed into surgery the very next day, with doctors having to slice through the right side of her skull to try and cut the tumour out.
While the surgery was a limited success with a large amount of the tumour being removed, sections had to be left behind and dealt with by chemotherapy.
Having already spent eight months waiting for a diagnosis, Georgia would then spend a further eight months undergoing a gruelling battle with chemo.
Two decades later, she remembers having to drive three hours to the nearest clinic to undergo radiation treatment, when she just wanted to ‘be back playing with my friends’.
‘My treatment was a long process, first I had to have surgery, and once I’d recovered from that, the many rounds of chemo began,’ she told Canteen, a charity that helps support children affected by cancer.
‘On top of that, I lost the vision in one of my eyes, and my peripheral vision is limited in the other. It was a long journey back to anything that resembled a ‘normal’ life.’
Despite beating the disease and going into remission just under a year later, the trauma of the experience stayed with her and was made more difficult because she didn’t have anyone her age to talk to about her cancer battle.
‘After a few years, I realised I was still struggling with my cancer experience, I felt isolated and disconnected from other people my age,’ she said.
Eight months later a cancerous tumour was found wrapped around her optical nerve and spent a further eight months undergoing chemotherapy to beat the disease
Two decades later the school teacher has recounted the most painful experience was the loneliness she felt not knowing anyone who had been similarly effected by cancer
Georgia was introduced to Canteen in her teenage years where she would finally find the companionship she was searching for.
‘I can tell you, that’s when my life changed. On my first Canteen program, I meet two other girls from Tasmania who were also going through their own experience, and we’ve been best friends ever since,’ she said.
‘I’ve been able to access unconditional support and connect with so many young people.’
Georgia has since become a youth ambassador for the organisation to urge children affected by cancer to contact the organisation.
Her story was shared by Canteen as part of a holiday fundraising drive to help other young people receive the help they need.
‘Canteen’s programs aim to help young people impacted by cancer meet others who share similar stories. It’s about getting them together so they can find that peer support they don’t receive from anywhere else,’ Canteen’s Program Officer, Oli, said.