Charlie Teo patient’s heartbreak
Just weeks after undergoing lifesaving and dangerous surgery, a 12-year-old cancer patient has been told her mother's cancer has returned.
Amelia "Milli" Lucas made national headlines two weeks ago, when she underwent surgery to remove a tumour from her brain. The surgery was performed by surgeon Charlie Teo, who performed the difficult surgery after others had deemed it too risky. Miraculously, Milli was up, walking and smiling shortly after the surgery.
At the time, Dr Teo said the family had been "brave" in tackling the otherwise incurable tumour.
"They know it's not curable and could reduce her quality of life, but they just aren't ready to give up. It's a very brave decision," Dr Teo said.
Dr Teo was able to remove 98 per cent of the tumour during the difficult surgery, and specialists in Germany are now analysing Milli's case to see if they can remove the remaining two per cent.
But two weeks after the life saving surgery, the family has been dealt a devastating blow.
Milli's mother Monica Smirk has been diagnosed with breast cancer, according to The West Australian
Ms Smirk has previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, just three years ago, and underwent a double mastectomy and hysterectomy.
The mother of three, who is currently caring for her daughter Milli as she recovers from brain surgery, said she'll deal with the lump "only when I have to".
"I can see it, it's not grown so it can wait, but it'll have to come off eventually," Ms Smirk said, describing the lump.
She is the seventh person in her family to be diagnosed with the devastating Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a genetic disposition, passed down through the parent, which gives the sufferer a lifelong risk of cancer.
It is characterised by early onset of cancer, and the sufferers are predisposed to a wide variety of cancers throughout their life.
The rare and devastating disease is believe to affect less than 1000 people around the world.
Ms Smirk's niece and her brother have both suffered from tumours, along with her daughter Tess, 15, who also had a brain tumour.
Tess was successfully previously treated for the tumour, and recovered.
Ms Smirk told The West Australian she carries a heavy burden thinking about the genetic baggage she unknowingly passed on to her children.
"It kills me every night, I f***ing bawl my eyes out watching (Milli). I did that to her, to them, it kills me every day," Ms Smirk said.
"They're such good kids They don't deserve this."
The comments, made in front of Milli, left the young girl devastated, and she reassured her mother.
Dr Teo described Milli as "calm" and "courageous". He took on her surgery after all other surgeons deemed it too risky.
"It went into the brain stem, the no-go zone where most people don't operate", Dr Teo said, calling it one of the more difficult of his career.
Conducted in a private hospital, the family raised funds for the surgery through a fundraising page.
Their initial goal was to raise $100,000 but the donation page made it to $164,000 by the time of Milli's surgery.