Brave Euroa cancer survivor Chelsea Maher’s battle with brain tumour

A Euroa seven-year-old is alive thanks to a diagnostic tool for children’s brain cancer.

Chelsea Maher, aged seven, is in remission from brain cancer. She loves horses and ponies.

For seven-year-old Chelsea, getting back to playing with her pony and being in dance classes again are top priorities. But just one year ago, she could scarcely find the energy to leave the house. She went from being a healthy and normal child to a very sick one in a matter of weeks.

Her mother Tracey Johnson credits the work of brain cancer charity the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation with saving Chelsea’s life.

“She had an MRI and underwent surgery in January last year to remove her tumour which was malignant and fast growing,” Ms Johnson said.

“The information we got back after that was very specific and critical to the treatment she was given.”

Chelsea’s doctors were swiftly told the grade-one student was suffering from a medulloblastoma tumour of the central nervous system, and mapped out her treatment.

“They had a complete DNA profile of the tumour. That would not have been possible without the RCD Foundation,” Ms Johnson said.

The Melbourne-based charity was founded nearly 10 years ago in memory of an enthusiastic Brighton Grammar student, Robert ‘Connor Dawes’, who died from brain cancer.

The foundation co-funded the advanced diagnostic tools that were used to characterise the unique molecular features of Chelsea’s tumour and related clinical trials. The diagnostic tools are part funded by government and, more recently, by the Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer charity established by Carrie Bickmore.

Ms Johnson will be participating in a major fundraising event for the RCD foundation this weekend in her home town of Euroa, where volunteers will try to row 1000km in a local gym, towards a $50,000 goal.

The Victorian high country town is also home to the Perry family which has enthusiastically fundraised for the RCD Foundation for several years.

Dustin Perry said they did so in honour of their daughter Chloe, who died from paediatric brain cancer in 2017.

Mr Perry said Chelsea’s cancer remission was a real life example of what had been achieved through fundraising and advocacy.

“To have another little girl in our small country town being treated for brain cancer and directly benefiting from our past fundraising and advocacy has really brought home the difference that has been made,” he said.

Mr Perry, his wife Shannon, son Theo aged 11 and daughter Lilly 15, will be at the Euroa Gym on February 18 to try to help meet the 1000km rowing target.


The Perry family was involved in the event last year which raised about $45,000. The event took more than eight hours to complete and had a much shorter rowing target of only 300km.