Mother's plea to save toddler battling cancer

Overseas treatment may be the only way to save the life of a 19-month-old toddler battling cancer.

Rosannah Gundry was diagnosed with stage three neuroblastoma cancer last December, following a series of tests and scans related to her curved spine.

The toddler from the small town of Baradine in north western New South Wales had been previously diagnosed with scoliosis when she was just a couple of months old. However her mother Jamilee Searle decided to seek a second opinion after the toddler’s health continued to decline and her stomach grew rapidly.

It was not until she saw a specialist at Westmead Children’s Hospital that doctors discovered a tumour was causing her spine to curve.

On December 10 doctors found that Rosannah had a tumour the size of a soccer ball in her abdomen. The tumour, which is estimated to weigh approximately seven kilograms, is believed to have begun growing when Rosannah was in the womb.

The toddler was admitted to hospital the same day and began chemotherapy just one week later. She finished her fourth and final chemotherapy treatment on February 19.

Her aunt Jessica Searle said oncologists originally believed the tumour would be able to be removed after chemotherapy.

“After Rosannah’s last chemo treatment we were all hopeful that we were bringing Rosannah home, unfortunately this was not the case,” she said.

“Scans showed that the tumour didn't shrink even a quarter of the size that they expected it to. Chemotherapy was ineffective.

“Her tumour has created a protective barrier which makes the chemo believe it is not cancerous so it won't attack it.”

She added that radiation was not an option due to the tumour’s size and proximity to vital organs.

Rosannah and her mother Jamilee Searle have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Sydney since last December.

Jessica noted that despite her battle with cancer, Rosannah has continued to be happy little kid who liked to run wild and play.

However since she finished chemotherapy, Rosannah has been hospitalised with infections and viruses and is finding it increasingly difficult to walk.

“Her walking is really starting to deteriorate, it really hurts her to walk,” said her mother Jamilee.

She added that Rosannah had also stopped speaking and had reverted back to being like a newborn.

Jamilee Searle and Rosannah welcoming baby Skylah to the world. Photo: Supplied.
Jamilee Searle and Rosannah welcoming baby Skylah to the world. Photo: Supplied.

During this difficult time Jamilee gave birth to her second daughter, Skylah. The baby girl, who was born on February 16, is being cared for by her grandparents in Baradine, as Jamilee who is a single mother, was finding it extremely stressful to care for both children.

“We don’t know what is going to happen next… we are waiting to find out,” she said.

Rosannah’s oncologist has reached out to other specialists across the globe for advice on surgical removal, which has also been advised against due to the risk associated with the tumour’s size and location.

Her oncologist is continuing to discuss Rosannah’s case with overseas experts to see if she would qualify for other treatments and medical drug trials.

A Facebook page and gofundme page has been set up to raise awareness and help the family deal with the costs associated with caring for Rosannah.

The page will not only help cover the cost of medication and driving between Baradine and Sydney, but will also help fund potential overseas treatments, which would not be covered by Medicare.

“Depending on what treatment or drug trial Rosannah is accepted for overseas, we could be looking at needing over $200 000 for treatment, traveling and living expenses whilst over there. It just depends what oncologist and centre takes Rosannah in,” Jessica said.

Jessica noted that if her own three-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer, she would completely break down.

“I just can't imagine what Jamilee is going through as a parent with a very sick child fighting for their life. She is a very strong mother and is only 20 years old.”

Jamilee said she was overwhelmed by the support her family had already received.

“It’s actually extraordinary …a lot of people I don’t even know have donated, it’s quite amazing to get that support.”

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