"Our biggest fear was that cancer would break her beautiful spirit. But look at her! She’s so happy and full of life,” says proud mum Megan.
Little Amelia Hoppe is dancing up a storm, rocking her hips and waving her hands, absolutely beaming. Were it not for her lack of hair, no one could tell that this three-year-old has endured more than many do in a lifetime.
When Amelia was just two, her parents Megan, 36, and Benn, 35, noticed a lump on her labia while changing her nappy.
Gynaecologist Dr Sonia Grover at the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital diagnosed Amelia with rhabdomyosarcoma-volvo – a gynaecological cancer affecting just one in 250,000 people in Australasia.
Amelia is thought to be the youngest Aussie ever diagnosed with the incredibly rare condition. When doctors caught it, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and was in its most advanced stage.
In the eight months since then, Amelia has endured nine rounds of chemotherapy as well as 23 days straight of external radiation, requiring a general anaesthetic each time, and 10 days of internal radiation called brachytherapy.
Despite the challenging bouts of cancer treatment, Amelia has smiled through it all.
“She’d throw up for hours, then smile and say ‘all done, Mummy,’” Megan says. “I don’t recall one tantrum about going to hospital.”
What does Amelia remember most about her time in hospital? “Getting my face painted,” she says, with a twirl and a curtsy.
To donate to the Save the Box campaign, register your support for gynaecological cancer or for more information visit www.savethebox.org.au. And to read the full story about Amelia's inspiring journey, pick up the new issue of Woman's Day, on sale now!