A Perth family are desperately hoping an experimental treatment in Mexico will help save their four-year-old daughter who is dying of a rare brain cancer.
It's a last resort effort from parents Trung and Sandy Nguyen who have spent more than $200,000 on an experimental treatment, The West Australian reports.
Four-year-old Annabelle was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, in September 2015 with her parents refusing to accept doctors telling them nothing could be done to save her.
“Two years ago we were told to go home and ‘make memories’ for the next six to nine months, and if we were lucky we would get 12 months, so we should make the most of it,” Mrs Nguyen said.
“No parent deserves to hear that.”
When Annabelle was two years old she first began showing symptoms such as impaired vision and night terrors.
She also started to become unsteady on her feet.
She was diagnosed not long after, with her condition having a survival rate of less than one per cent and was given radiation therapy, which partly shrank the tumour.
After the family were told Annabelle had a short time to live they moved to Vietnam to try Chinese medicine.
The treatment Annabelle - who has been in Mexico since May - is receiving involves immunotherapy combined with intra-arterial chemotherapy drugs that are administered directly into the tumour.
“We haven’t seen a huge effect on the cancer but doctors here are happy with her progress, with slight shrinkage of the tumour and less intensity, or enhancement,” Mrs Nguyen said.
“This might seem nothing for what we’ve been paying but the little baby steps are big steps for us.”
While the parents say they understand the treatment is not a cure, they believe it might hold the cancer at bay.
“Half of me died the day Annabelle was diagnosed and for now we hope for a cure so I can see my daughter’s first day at school home in Perth,” she said.
"I’m emotionally and physically exhausted but I’ll do whatever it takes to fight this monster.”
Some children’s facial features do become distorted by the tumour, however, Annabelle has no visible sign of the cancer that's killing her.
“She doesn’t look any different to other children her age, except there is an incurable brain tumour inside her head,” her mother said.
The family say while they're still self-funding the treatment, they are running low financially and have set up a GoFundMe Page.
They also post regular updates on Annabelle on Facebook.