BETTER DAYS: Sasha Berry on the playground just months before her diagnosis.
BETTER DAYS: Sasha Berry on the playground just months before her diagnosis. Contributed

8-year-old fights for life after nine operations

IN JULY this year, Tim and Ange Berry received the news no parent wants to hear: it was their paediatrician, calling to tell them their daughter Sasha had a brain tumour so large she needed to be taken immediately to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

Four days later, on July 15, eight-year-old Sasha was wheeled into an operating theatre where surgeons attempted to remove the tumour.

"In Brisbane Sasha had a range of tests that indicated she had a very slow growing tumour and severe hydrocephalus, which is a build up of brain fluid causing pressure on the brain," Tim said.

"Her oncologists believed that Sasha had lived happily with the tumour for many years and had learnt to compensate for the changes in her brain."

What no-one could predict before Sasha's first craniotomy operation was that the slow growing tumour had established a very extensive blood supply and Sasha had a catastrophic cerebral haemorrhage.

"The surgeons spent the next 12 hours trying to stop the bleed to successfully save Sasha's life," Tim said.

The past 10 weeks following the operation were a rollercoaster for their family, with Sasha undergoing another eight more operations and saw little outside the four walls of the intensive care unit, before the decision was made to repeat the craniotomy.

"After six hours we were given the news that the surgeons had successfully removed the tumour," Ange said.

"The blood supply to the tumour had suffered immensely after the first surgery and was no longer present. Our neurosurgeon said it was "mother nature at its best", the love and prayers from all of you.

"Sasha's post-op recovery has been slow and complicated by pneumonia. Each day is a baby step forward. Sasha's journey will continue here at Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital and as she stabilises we will move from the Intensive Care Unit to the Neurosurgical ward for further recovery and then hopefully onto rehabilitation."


Sasha Berry at the beach ready to hit the waves.
Sasha Berry at the beach ready to hit the waves. Contributed

Ange said the entire family was grateful for the support they have received from the Clarence Valley community.

"This journey is immensely hard on all of our family but most of all Sasha," she said.

"She has been the strongest, bravest, most amazing little girl who continues to surprise both us and the medical team with her strength.

"Our lives have been turned upside down and yet with the support from our families, friends and community, we continue to put one foot in front of the other each day and do the only thing we can and that is to love Sasha and each other.

"We cannot begin to thank everyone for their support through this journey so far and we have been completely overwhelmed by it. Please accept this as our thanks for all that you do and have done. They say it takes a village to raise a child and our village has certainly stepped up to the challenge."