SKIPPING school to spend time together, the Sacaray family could never have predicted the turn the day would take.
Playing with her toys, seven-year-old Ella called out for her father – she couldn’t move her arm.
“She was crying, she said she was stuck on the floor and when I looked at her, her eyes weren’t focused anymore,” Ella’s mother Laurice said.
“We were airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, when we got there they did an MRI.
“They found there was a brain tumour and it was bigger than they expected.”
Ella was rushed into the operating theatre for a 12 hour operation, just 30 minutes after the brain scan.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s just a challenge,” she told her mum when she woke up.
The family spent two months at Ronald McDonald House – the once shocking diagnosis of pilocytic astrocytoma became common on the oncology ward.
Pilocytic astrocytoma is a brain tumour that occurs more often in children and adults under the age of 20.
“It’s rare for a child to have a tumour, but the kind Ella has is the most common for kids,” Ms Sacaray said.
“At first I blamed myself because when we asked the doctor what the cause of this is – there’s no known source.
“But I felt like maybe because when she was a baby she fell one time or things like that, but that’s never the reason why.”
After two months in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Ella and her family are back in Armidale.
And, they said they couldn’t be more grateful to the community for its support.
“When everything happened, we don’t have any family here in Australia – the only reason we are here is because my husband goes to the university,” Ms Sacaray said.
“I wanted to acknowledge these people – the Filipino community held a concert, IGA helped out with donation boxes and Armidale City Public School held a milkshake fundraiser.”
“I felt like Australia was behind our back all the way,” Mr Sacaray said.
Wearing a hat that reads “I’m kind of a big deal” and a shirt that says “My eyes just rolled so hard I saw my brain” – you only have to look at Ella to know she isn’t rocked easily.
At the moment Ella is undergoing rehabilitation therapy to learn to walk again.
Ella will have chemotherapy every month for the next year, to ensure the tumour is gone.
“She’s very motivated, even when we’re home she does her exercises,” Ms Sacaray said.
“Yesterday she was telling the therapist, “I want to walk, I want to walk!””