Flashback - brain tumours attacked
About three years ago, Super Ethan and the Ethan Davies Scholarship for Brain Cancer Research (an annual research scholarship that preceded Ethan's Fellowship) were the subject of some special coverage in The West Australian.
Brain tumours attacked
When a young child is comfortable and confident enough to stay a whole day at kindy, it's usually just the proud parents and grandparents who celebrate the milestone with beaming smiles.
For Ethan Davies, 4, from Success, whose battle against a fist-sized ependymoma brain tumour involved nine hours of surgery, chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments, staff at the Telethon Kids Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital also stopped last month to mark the achievement.
Two years ago, Ethan was in so much pain he needed morphine just so his tiny frame could be turned over in his hospital bed. He is now tumour free.
"The staff have all along embraced us like family," his father Shannon Davies said. "They know what we have been through and have shared our journey."
Telethon Institute researchers say a new era has begun in the fight against childhood brain tumours.
Hopes were raised recently, says research leader Nick Gottardo, that the great gains made for leukaemia would be mirrored for this cancer using the tactic of more individualised and targeted treatment.
"Ethan spending the whole day at kindy - if you had asked me a year ago, I might not have held great hope," Mr Davies said.
"We live from scan to scan. We just do not look that far ahead."
Against the odds
For four–year-old Ethan Davies from Success, the battle against a fist-sized ependymoma brain tumour required nine hours of surgery, chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments.
Two years ago, Ethan had been in so much pain fighting the cancer, his tiny frame needed morphine just to be turned over in his bed.
Having spent a year in and out of hospital, he is now tumour-free and slowly making up for lost time.
Staff at the Telethon Kids Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital stopped last month to mark the achievement of Ethan’s first full day at kindy and pass around photos.
“When you have a child with brain cancer, every parent mentally buries that child many times over in their head,” his father, Shannon Davies, said.
“You learn not to expect things that you would normally expect with a child. Anything is a bonus.”
“We are so proud. He has already exceeded all our expectations.”
Telethon Kids Institute researchers say a new era has begun in the fight against childhood brain tumours. Hopes have recently been raised, says Research leader Dr Nick Gottardo said it was hoped that the same great gains made in leukaemia would be triggered in this cancer by adopting the tactic of more individualised and targeted treatment.
Scholarship winner focuses on new weapon
The urgent need to find a better way to mop up worrying microscopic cancer cells left behind when a brain tumour is removed by surgery inspired trainee neurosurgeon Sasha Rogers to last month join the research team at WA’s Telethon Kids Institute.
Focusing on ependymoma brain tumours, his role will be to harness his surgical, biopsy and research skills to track and analyse changes triggered by drugs tested in laboratory models designed to behave and respond like a child’s tumour.
The aim is to identify a “new weapon” to work as a proven, effective chemotherapy agent and prevent recurrence.
“With surgery, we are at the end of the line,” Dr Rogers said. “We can only do so much and we need to find another way to push forward.”
He is the inaugural recipient of the Ethan Davies Scholarship for Brain Cancer Research, established by the family of the four-year-old Perth boy who has been waging a war against a fist-sized ependymoma brain tumour. After undergoing a nine-hour operation, chemotherapy and 33 radiation sessions, Ethan is currently tumour-free and just started kindy.
Telethon Kids Institute director Professor Jonathan Carapetis said the scholarship stemmed from an extraordinary commitment from Ethan’s parents, Shannon and Christie-Lee, at a time of great challenge for the family.
Mr Davies, a property lawyer, said that for two years family and friends had been “busting their guts” through fundraising activities, ranging from sausage sizzles, tin shaking and seeking company commitments, and had raised $275,000. They were now only $25,000 short of covering the scholarship funding needs for the first two years.
He said it “broke his heart” that staff at the institute were constantly having to juggle their research with the need to fill in paperwork to apply for more funding.
“It’s a terrible situation,” he said.