Tumour fight doesn't stop brave Gabriel


Parents everywhere hope their child will say it one day.

Riverside three-year-old Gabriel Baylis said it yesterday.

It was one of only two words - the other was ``no'' - he has said since he underwent brain surgery on October 18.

``It's been a while,'' Gabriel's dad, Shea Baylis said.

``So it was pretty bloody good.

``[Emmalie, Gabriel's mum] was pretty excited.''

But Gabriel and his family still have at least a six-month battle ahead - a battle their community is trying to help them fight.

Gabriel was diagnosed with a tumour wrapped around his brain stem and at the top of his spinal cord about 11pm on October 13.

``He'd been sick on and off for eight weeks,'' Mr Baylis said yesterday.

``He'd been vomiting, was tired, dizzy, he was very unsteady on his feet.''

Gabriel had been taken to the Launceston General Hospital numerous times, but a CT scan that  October night finally showed the tumour.

The next morning, Gabriel, his five-year-old sister Jakeeta, and Mr and Mrs Baylis were flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Gabriel underwent a 14-hour operation to remove the tumour, but doctors could only remove about 75 per cent.

``A week later he had a shunt put in and then a week after that he had a port put into his chest for chemo,'' Mr Baylis said.

Because of the surgery, Gabriel has had to learn to walk, talk and swallow all over again.

``He gets very frustrated and upset, he just cries, he wants cuddles, wants comfort and sometimes he gets that upset that he'll just push you away and fling his arms around,'' Mr Baylis said.

For Mr Baylis, the brain operation was one he knew too well.

``I couldn't believe it considering I had brain surgery six years ago pretty much to the date,'' Mr Baylis said.

Mr Baylis had had an arteriovenous malformation - a tangled mesh of abnormal blood vessels - with multiple aneurysms.

``It burst and bled into my brain,' Mr Baylis said.

Gabriel finished his chemotherapy yesterday and now has to undertake 18 days of rehabilitation, have MRI scans every four weeks and have a second operation.

``The doctors are pretty hopeful they can remove the rest of it . . . but again, there are going to be some risks,'' Mr Baylis said.

``Bleeding is a big risk, speech and movement and swallowing and all of those things will be affected again, so the leaps that he's made since his surgery, we'll have to go back through.

``But he's smiling, and you can get a laugh out of him.

``At this stage it looks like we'll be [in Melbourne] for about six months.''

The community has got behind the family and the Westbury Hotel, where Mr Baylis has worked for almost three years, has raised $3000 since the diagnosis.

The hotel will hold a car wash on Saturday, November 24, to raise more funds for the family.  It  will run from 9am to 5pm.

Gabriel Baylis recovering in hospital in Melbourne after his first round of surgery.

Gabriel Baylis recovering in hospital in Melbourne after his first round of surgery.


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