Three months ago little Heidi Smith died after a short battle with brain cancer, and now her mother Stacy is fighting for a cure - or at least better treatment - for other kids.
The Barrack Heights girl was given a 40 per cent chance of survival in May after she was diagnosed with a rare pediatric tumour called Atypical Terratoid Rhabdoid Tumour, or AT/RT.
The 14-month-old was just a few weeks into an intense 12-month chemotherapy regimen when she came down with an infection.
With her immune system compromised by the cancer treatment, she couldn't fight it and died on June 19 surrounded by her loving family.
Ms Douch said she'd gained some comfort and much support from various support groups.
She's also found a kindred spirit in another Illawarra mother Charlene Ebbs, whose daughter Kalani died in December 2018 after battling the same rare tumour.
Now Ms Douch wants to help other parents - and their beautiful children - faced with such terrible diagnoses.
She's promoting this year's Walk4BrainCancer. The annual event is usually held in Wollongong at Beaton Park, but due to COVID-19 restrictions it's gone online in 2020.
It will now be held, virtually, on Sunday, September 27, with the goal to raise $1 million for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (CBCF).
"It's so important to not only raise awareness but funds for research, to hopefully one day find a cure but also to find better treatments for kids," Ms Douch said.
"At the moment parents are faced with terrible decisions, knowing that even if a child survives they'll have to live with the side effects of the treatment for life.
"Heidi was so tough, but it was horrifying to see what she had to go through. There's a need for more targeted therapies, with fewer side effects and better success rates."
The Wollongong event was established in 2014 by Kate Mitrovski, who's become a community ambassador for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation after losing her dad to brain cancer.
"My dad Stojan died from brain cancer when he was 36, nearly 20 years ago," she said.
"Five years ago I started the walk after reading an article and coming to the realisation that not much had changed since dad passed away in terms of research.
"Today just one in five people diagnosed with brain cancer survives five years, it kills more kids than any other disease, and more people under 40 than any other cancer.
"So we need to raise funds for research, advocacy and awareness, and help the CBCF in its mission to increase the five-year survival rate from 20 to 50 per cent by 2023."
This year's participants can take a walk in their own backyard, on their treadmill, or around the block. Join up or donate at walk4braincancer.com.au
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