Devastating reason for girl’s ‘clumsiness’
It's the news no parent wants to hear - being told your child has only got nine months to live.
At first, when Ana and Chris McEldowney noticed their eight-year-old daughter Mia was being "a little bit clumsy", they didn't think anything of it.
But as six weeks went by, her co-ordination wasn't getting any better.
The keen netballer was struggling during her games, and that's when Ana's sister, who is also Mia's coach, put it down to an ear infection.
But just 24 hours later the family, from Mackay, Queensland, were left devastated after Mia was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.
"We took her to the hospital, and as soon as we got there they took her into emergency and that's when they found a mass sitting on the centre of her brain," Chris, 32, told news.com.au.
"Doctors told us she had a slow-growing DIPG (an aggressive type of childhood cancerous tumour)."
The devastated family searched for answers on what they could have done to prevent it but was told "nothing".
"Doctors said it could have been with her since she was a baby, and because it is slow growing, they couldn't tell," Chris explained.
Upon hearing the devastating news, Chris said both he and Ana "broke down".
"We are both just broken," he said.
Chris said alarm bells started ringing when Mia, normally an active, energetic girl, started to come home with bruises all over body.
"We just noticed she was getting clumsier and she would come in from playing outside with her sister (Quinn, 5) and cousin after school covered in bruises, and (she) told us she just kept falling over," Chris said.
Doctors told the family, who are due to have their third child in three months, their eldest daughter had nine months to live, and the only option to prolong her life was six weeks of radiation.
Today is the first day of Mia's 30 treatments of radiation.
"With radiation they expect it to shrink significantly, but it's inoperable," Chris told news.com.au
"If we did nothing they gave her nine months.
"But with radiation she might get between two and five years."
Chris said while Mia was aware she was sick, she didn't know the extent of her condition.
"She doesn't really understand what is happening. She is already a pretty emotional girl, so when family and friends come to visit her she cries as soon as they leave," Chris said.
The couple, originally from New Zealand, have family from all over the world visiting Mia.
"My parents were in the US on a holiday and were three weeks into their eight-week trip but flew back here as soon as they found out," Chris said.
Ana's brother James helped set up a Give A Little page knowing the family would be stationed in Brisbane, 10 hours away from Mackay, for at least six weeks.
Chris said the messages of support had been overwhelming as the family fights through this terrible time.
"It gives us a lot of hope with people sending messages of prayers," Chris said.
"Mia is a fighter. She is the perfect daughter, and she will beat it."
So far more than $52,000 has been raised to assist the McEldowney family with medical costs accommodation costs, travel costs and loss of income - and help make life as comfortable as possible for Mia.