Imagine being told it will cost $25,000 per treatment for any chance of saving your four-year-old from a brain tumour. And that the treatment is only available in Mexico. (That’s a long way from Canberra!)
This is the reality for a Canberra family, whose four-year-old daughter Annabelle is in the fight of her life.
The Potts family has relocated to Mexico to buy time with their daughter. An absolute nightmare because they had no assistance from the Australian Government or private health insurance.
It was five months ago that Annabelle’s Mum Kathie Potts noticed something odd.
“It started as sleep disturbances and night terrors,” she said.
Annabelle and her family have relocated to Mexico to buy time for their daughter. (Image: Supplied)
Night terrors and behavioural changes progressed to limping; and that’s when Kathie and her husband knew something was terribly wrong.
After tests, Annabelle’s family were told it was Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). DIPG is an aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumour at the base of the brain, as a result, Annabelle’s tumour is inoperable.
“We screamed and held each other,” said Kathie. “I finally asked how long have we got and [the surgeon] said, ‘With this type of tumour we talk about it in a matter of months’.”
Consequently, the Potts family have now relocated to Mexico to undergo a unique intra-arterial chemotherapy treatment combined with immunotherapy.
“Annabelle’s chemotherapy drugs are fed up through an artery in her groin, to help it finally get through the blood brain barrier,” explained Kathie.
Hope is expensive. They expect Annabelle will need eight to 12 treatments, which she started this week. In conclusion, the family could be looking at a medical bill of $300,000.
“She was under for around two and a half hours, so Adam and I waited anxiously in the waiting room with William asleep in the pram,” Kathie said.
“Side effects to follow over the next few days include tiredness, severe headaches, vomiting as well as elevated temperatures, up to 39.9 degrees.”
The biggest obstacle for the family is not speaking Spanish.
It is very hard to communicate and also explain the medical procedures and ask questions to doctors, as it is their second language.
“When we receive copies of the MRI reports, we need to send them back home to a friend to translate for us.”
Annabelle will receive her next treatment in a fortnight.
The Canberra community has raised over $238,000 so far through the family’s GoFundMe page, the Potts family hold out hope that they’ll reach $350,000 to cover the costs of the treatments.
You can help the Potts family by donating here.