WITH her blonde hair, chubby cheeks and elfin grin, it’s easy to forget that Ingrid Newman is still in the fight of her life as she battles a brain tumour.
The four-year-old Rossville youngster has spent more time in hospital than most people do in a lifetime, and her mother Belle said that wasn’t going to change any time soon.
“The chemo she is on now is being planned for a year to see how the tumour reacts,” Ms Newman said.
“This is pretty much her whole life, so she doesn’t know any different.”
Ms Newman flies to Cairns every week for chemotherapy that doctors hope will stop the tumour growing, and regular scans in Brisbane to monitor the tumour’s size.
In between trips to hospital, Ingrid is like any other four-year-old, enjoying learning and playing at Cooktown Kindy with friends and getting ready for her first year of school.
“She’s a little bit behind with some things, but kindy has really helped her,” Ms Newman said.
“Cooktown Kindy has just been brilliant, they are so helpful and aware of her needs.”
Ingrid was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2020 at just 14 months old, after Ms Newman noticed she was struggling to walk and was not her normal, happy self.
“It was the start of COVID and the Cape had just been locked down,” she said.
“I was halfway through my pregnancy with (our second child) Hector and Jaxon had to stay behind for work.”
Ten days after Cairns Base doctors said she had a virus and sent her away with pain relief, the toddler had a seizure while in a Cairns quarantine hotel and was rushed back to hospital.
Ms Newman said she was again dismissed but demanded more tests as the little girls’ head was now visibly swollen, with a vein protruding from her forehead.
“They put her in for a full body CT scan the next morning and they said she’s got a brain tumour. We found out Saturday and were flown to Brisbane on Sunday,” she said.
Friends and family rallied around the young family, driving Mr Newman to Brisbane as he wasn’t allowed to fly with Ingrid and her mum.
The trio spent three months in Brisbane following surgery to install a shunt and relieve pressure on Ingrid’s brain.
After returning to Rossville, the family still had to make monthly trips to Brisbane and, a year after her diagnosis, Ingrid underwent a 10-hour surgery which removed half the tumour.
“The remaining part of the tumour has a major blood vessel running through it so it’s a very last resort to remove it,” Ms Newman said.
She said money was tight, with electrician husband Jaxon often unable to work as he travels with Ingrid to medical appointments or stays at home to look after the couple’s three other children while Ingrid is away with her mum.
“Queensland Health pays for our flights or fuel if we drive, and up to $120 a night for accommodation, but every week when we go to Cairns its about $50 in taxi fares that we have to pay, or in Brisbane it’s even more, as well as food,” Ms Newman said.
“There’s a lot of sitting around waiting for the plane, waiting for chemo to finish, so I’ve been crocheting gifts and selling them on Facebook to try and help pay for the taxi fares.
“It’s stuff that I’m doing while I’m travelling with Ingrid for chemo, so it is a bit more meaningful, too.”
Ms Newman said the community had been incredibly generous in supporting the young family.
“People are paying more than I’ve asked for the crochet gifts, and making donations as well,” she said.
“It’s been really, really helpful and we also try to save as much as possible, taking a lunchbox and keeping costs down.
“A big thank you to the Lion’s Den Hotel, Auswaste and the Endeavour Lions Club for their ongoing support and donations over the years.”
There is a donation tin at the Lions Den Hotel, a scheme ID with Containers for Change and a bank account in Ingrid’s name where donations can be made.