Fighting For Rachel

Fighting For Rachel

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Byford couple Andrew and Rachel Hayden are hoping the generosity of the community can grant them a new lease on life. Photograph – Richard Polden.

Being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour is something no one would hope to go through.

Then being told you are a lost cause while your husband and five children try to keep everything together in the midst of your illness is something not many people even think about.

But for Byford couple Andrew and Rachel Hayden it’s their reality.

Last year Ms Hayden was diagnosed with a tumour close to her pineal gland and making contact with her brain on all sides.

Mr and Ms Hayden who between them have been raising Mia (7), Ella (10), Ethan (13), Josh (16) and Matthew (19) found themselves in a cycle of uncertainty as they struggled to find anyone who could medically support them.

Mr Hayden said once they had the diagnosis they did not know what to do.

“We spent about a year just holing up, trying to work out what to do and it wasn’t until the neighbours asked the kids about what was going on that we really told anyone about it,” he said.

Since then Mr Hayden said the family has received support from the local community, more than they can say about any form of institutional support.

“It’s been basically non-existent,” he said.

“I’m on a carer’s pension…to look after Rach and the kids and it’s nowhere near enough to cover it.”

The couple have even had to go to the lengths of getting a doctor’s certificate to prove to Centrelink that Rachel was unable to look for work.

Thanks to some support workers including the couple’s doctor Bunty Prasad at Byford Village Medical Practice the couple were put into contact with Australia’s most well known neuroscientist Dr Charlie Teo.

Dr Teo has become internationally renowned for performing difficult brain operations on a multitude of patients who had otherwise been passed on by the medical industry, particularly those with pineal tumours.

Ms Hayden said the prospect of surgery has opened up an opportunity but as living costs and the surgery itself are expensive they need all the help they can get.

“We’ve had to get rid of our pets and the furniture’s next,” she said.

“What’s important is that the kids have food on the table, which they have but we don’t know how long we can keep going like this.”

Neighbours, family and friends have organised a fundraiser at the Armadale Community Family Centre for June 30.

To donate or get on board visit the Fighting For Rachel Facebook page.