• Tyirra-Lee McGrady. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Tyirra-Lee McGrady has been battling a brain tumour since she was four-years-old. Her family has had to renew their efforts to save her life when they found the tumour had grown back just a few weeks ago.
Keira Jenkins

10 Apr 2020 - 8:24 AM  UPDATED 10 Apr 2020 - 10:06 AM

Tyirra-Lee McGrady had been suffering excruciating migraines when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just four-years-old.

Her mum, Kirra McGrady, and grandmother, Janice Botta, knowing something wasn't right, had taken her to the local doctor in Casino, NSW. 

Little Tyirra-Lee was transferred up to the Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane to undergo surgery.

"She's a strong little thing," Tyirra's nan, Natasha Torrens told NITV News.

"It was difficult to hear that she had a brain tumour, but we always knew when she was having excruciating headaches that something was wrong.

"She was going good after the operation and she always had family around her, but it was all all a healing process, to be with family, her nans, her Elders."

That was in 2016. Doctors removed most of the tumour - an Ependymoma, a type of tumour which usually forms in the brain or on the spinal cord. For Tyirra-Lee, the tumour was in her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement and co-ordination.

Once she'd had the operation Tyirra-Lee had to go through chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Ms Torrens said it meant frequent trips to Brisbane for treatment.

"It was touching to see the family come together," she said.

"But it was also mentally physically and emotionally exhausting. Her nan Janice played a big part. She spent a whole year in hospital with Tyirra-Lee."

Just a few weeks ago Tyirra-Lee started to suffer headaches again and was taken back to the doctor.

"The tumour had grown back, bigger than it was before," Ms Torrens said.

"It's wrapped around brain stem which is restricting the functions Tyirra-Lee’s heart and other main organs.

"The doctors told Kirra ad Janice that they couldn't operate on it. They said 'we can send you home with pain management' and that was all.

"Doctors don't like to speak blunt to you but we knew what that meant. It was heartwrenching. We had our hearts ripped out."

Tyirra-Lee is at home now, and her family is concerned about her health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're overly concerned about her," Ms Torrens said.

"In Casino there's only been one confirmed case but I cringe when I have to go out to do things."

A recent call from a specialist in Sydney has renewed their efforts to save Tyirra's life.

Tyirra-Lee's mum, Kirra McGrady, started a fundraiser to raise the money for an operation in Sydney.

And the community has jumped on board.

"People have been awesome," Ms Torres said.

"We're in the middle of a pandemic and people have been incredible. People we don't even know are supporting Tyirra-Lee and sending us well wishes.

"Within the first 24 hours we had raised $9,000 and we are so grateful for that."

The family hasn't been able to schedule the trip or the operation, and for now they're taking each day as it comes.

Tyirra-Lee, who is now eight-years-old has a two-year-old brother, and another sibling on the way.

Ms Torrens said Tyirra-Lee loves school, when she can go, and her strength is an inspiration for the family.

"We had some good days last week, where she felt good," Ms Torrens said.

"She had lots of energy and was sitting up in her wheelchair soaking up the sun with us. But she's just sleeping at the moment, she's been tired this week.

"She's on four or five tablets a day for the pain. But she's our strong little girl. She gives us the courage and the strength to keep going.

"I'm 43 and I've had one operation in my life - she's only eight and she's had multiple operations and that's been her life, and she's stayed strong."

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