A grieving Queensland mother-of-five who lost her 14-month-old daughter to brain cancer has found joy and hope after giving birth to a healthy baby girl.
Ipswich couple Serina Peries, 37, and partner Glen Stevens, 34, welcomed their ‘little miracle’ Anika at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in South Brisbane three weeks ago.
Ms Peries said she faced emotional challenges after losing her daughter Amelia, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at just four months old.
“Raising my older children Amara, 14, and Elijah, 9 while having a little one in hospital and pregnant at the time was challenging,” she said.
“We were running on adrenaline and sometimes just didn’t have time to think, I felt I couldn’t let my guard down for the sake of my kids.”
She said less than a year after Amelia’s diagnosis in 2018, her daughter lost her battle to cancer, despite two operations and four rounds of high-dose chemotherapy cycles.
The tumour in Amelia’s brain had shrunk, however she passed away just weeks after treatment had finished.
“I was five months pregnant with Emmanuel, now two, when Amelia passed and it was hard for us all to come to terms with everything,” she said.
Mrs Peries said while Amelia’s battle with cancer was one of the hardest times in her life, her newborn Anika, had given her newfound strength to remain positive and give other families support.
“I have been given so much to be hopeful for, the birth of Emmanuel and Anika has got me through some really dark times,” she said.
“Now I have a little girl who uses all Amelia’s toys and clothes – it’s bittersweet.
“I see life differently now; family is everything to me.”
Amelia was diagnosed with cancer on Good Friday in 2018 after the couple had taken their daughter to the Emergency Department at Queensland’s Children’s Hospital.
Within hours a scan showed a mass in Amelia’s brain that measured about six centimetres in diameter.
“I was in so much shock, it took a long time to process,” Ms Peries said.
“We knew something wasn’t right as she had been vomiting a lot. I thought we were going in to get antibiotics, the next thing I was there for 20 days straight.”
Ms Peries was left devastated when doctors said they could not do much to save her baby girl.
“We were determined to get through it even though we knew her tumour was massive,” she said.
“The specialist explained, the mass was an ETMR (Embryonal tumour with Multilayered Rosettes) tumour, a rare and aggressive type of tumour that forms in the brain or spinal cord, most commonly in young children. In Amelia’s case, it was also malignant.”
Together with a fellow Queensland mum who lost her baby to cancer, Ms Peries started the Queensland paediatric Oncology Bereavement Support on Facebook to provide help and support for other families with children diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s tough but also a comforting time to know others are going through similar situations which can be helpful,” she said.
If you are a mum whose child has been diagnosed with cancer, or a mum who has lost a child to cancer, you can seek additional support from the Queensland paediatric Oncology Bereavement Support via Facebook.
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