Childrens Health

10yo’s Flickering Eyes Leads to Devastating Diagnosis

Evie Whipps is a beautiful 10-year-old from Bunbury WA who loves adventures with her family, netball, and music. Up until three weeks ago, she was healthy and happy.

However, on 6 February 2023, her mum, Pia, noticed her daughter’s eyes flickering back and forth when she was telling her a story.

Just one week later, Evie was diagnosed with an aggressive and inoperable brain tumour with a 0% survival rate.

flickering eyes leads to brain tumour
Source: GoFundMe

Now Pia, her husband Josh, and Evie’s siblings, Elsie and Sunny, are focused on spending the little time they have left with Evie and giving her the best quality of life that they can.

‘What are you doing with your eyes?’

Pia shares Evie’s story in the hopes that other parents will listen to their intuition and fiercely advocate for the health of their children.

As Pia tells 9Honey, when she first noticed Evie’s flickering eyes, she thought she was just kidding around.

“I said ‘What are you doing with your eyes?'” Pia recalls.

Evie wasn’t sure what her mum meant which is when Pia’s mum instinct kicked in.

She watched her daughter for another 20 minutes and the flickering eyes continued without Evie controlling it. She then called her family GP who suggested she take Evie to the ED if she was concerned.

Flickering eyes lead to brain tumour
Source: GoFundMe

Pia drove straight there where, after a six-hour wait, a doctor performed a vision test. Evie had lost a substantial amount of vision in her left eye. A short time later he asked her to do another vision test. This time, Evie’s vision was normal in both eyes.

“My mind thinks something really bad has happened because you don’t go in and out of vision,” she said.

Pia was told it was nystagmus and that the symptoms had resolved themselves. The doctor also suggested she book an MRI if she was concerned but didn’t provide a referral.

‘The prognosis is horrible’

Pia spend the next two days trying desperately to get her daughter an MRI but everywhere was booked.

By Thursday 9 February, Evie’s symptoms seemed a lot worse. She was getting frequent nosebleeds and bumping into things.

Pia called her husband Josh, who works FIFO to come home. They then packed up the car and took Evie to Perth Children’s Hospital. Thankfully she was seen straight away and booked in for an MRI on Monday, 9 February.

While in Perth, the family decided to have a look at a caravan – it was on Evie’s wish list to take a caravan trip.

On Tuesday, 10 February, just as the family was headed out to the door to pick up their new caravan, Pia received a phone call from their GP.

Evie’s scans revealed a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). This is an extremely aggressive type of brain tumour. It is considered incurable and inoperable.

“I just collapsed. I googled it and I instantly knew that was it.

It was almost like we already knew the end. We know there’s no hope. It sounds awful when I say that. But the prognosis is horrendous.”

Less than a year

Sadly, due to the location of the tumour, they won’t be able to remove it. Even worse, the mass is attached to an area of the brainstem called the pons, which controls many of the body’s most vital functions.

The average overall survival rate for people with DIPG is less than a year.

Since receiving the devastating diagnosis, the Whipps have relocated to Perth. Evie will start radiation therapy to try and shrink the brain tumour and ease her symptoms. She is now using a wheelchair as she struggles on her feet.

While we are cared for by the amazing doctors and staff at PCH, our “treatment plan” as a family is pure love. We are supplementing everything happening with Evie’s medical treatment with joy, fun, laughter, friends, family, sunshine, nature and endless amounts of love.” 

Evie and her dad
Source: GoFundMe

One of Evie’s wishes was that her dad remains with her – that the family all stay together. While it does put a financial burden on the Whipps, friends have started a GoFundMe account to help ensure Evie’s wishes do come true.

“I cannot express the hope that we feel. All we can do is prolong her with as much quality for her. The most important thing for us is quality of life.” 

You can follow Evie’s journey and support the Whipps through GoFundMe. 

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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