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Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Joel’s tumour fight returns

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Joel with his precious family, Brooke and seven-month-old Peachy. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Eve Jeffery

A Mullumbimby couple’s life came crashing down last week when Brooke Bretherton came home from grocery shopping to find her seven-month-old daughter Peachy distraught in her high chair, and her husband Joel unresponsive after having a seizure.

This is not the first time Joel has been ill. Brooke says Joel was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006 when he was 22. He was treated with radiation therapy and chemo for almost 12 years until things got worse and he was given just months to live.

In Sydney in April 2018, Joel had a successful surgery performed by Dr Charlie Teo, said to be the best brain surgeon in the world.

Joel’s tumour came back

The recent seizure was a sure sign the tumour was back and the last few days have been a whirlwind of doctors appointment, tests and plans for treatment.

‘We are absolutely scared, shocked and doing everything we can to gain strength and positivity for our little girl Peachy,’ says Brooke. ‘We don’t want to lose sight of our dream life, as we honestly thought it was all behind us.

‘We began to shape a new future and it has been rattled again. Now it’s just about us shifting our mindset to what to worry about and what better way to approach our thoughts.’

Brooke says it’s a challenge to remain positive and stay strong. ‘We are only human. We try our best but some days it is not our day, so we cross our fingers and focus on the next.’

Dr Teo to the rescue again

The couple is hoping that Dr Teo can come to the rescue again and are looking at surgery or radiation or chemo or a mixture of all across in Sydney and Melbourne.

‘We are currently working with familiar teams Joel has dealt with in the past,’ says Brooke. ’New Zealand for radiation and advice and The Royal Melbourne hospital for radiation and chemo, and also Charlie Teo. Once we speak to everyone we will have a clearer path.

Harder still is that Joel’s family are in New Zealand and unable to travel to give support. Yet, his sister Alice is doing what she can by setting up a Go Fund Me page to help out her little brother and his family.

‘The idea of not having this man, my sweet little bro, with us in the future is too heartbreaking to even consider,’ says Alice. ‘The possibility that Peachy won’t have her dad around is unbearable.’

The waiting begins

For now, the Brethertons wait until they know their next step. The only thing they know for sure is that things need to move fast for the best outcome. ‘We were drifting along so gently and this last scan really threw us, and to be honest, it knocked the colour out of what we saw our future looking like.

‘We are doing our best to tread lightly and trust the process, but right now “the future” for us is getting to tomorrow and if we muck up today, we always have tomorrow to look forward to.

If you would like to help Joel and his family, visit the Go Find Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/donate-to-joel-needs-your-help.

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