Make a le­mon face for lit­tle Annabelle


CAN­CER has paral­ysed her face and stolen her smile but Annabelle Potts can still is­sue a heart­break­ing video dare for ev­ery­one to join the “Le­mon Face Chal­lenge” and help all those “lit­tle kids who have lumps in­side their heads”.

Like the Ice Bucket Chal­lenge that has raised mil­lions for mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease, Annabelle and her fam­ily hope the Le­mon Face Chal­lenge can take off and shine a spot­light on child­hood brain can­cer.

Annabelle’s favourite band, The Wig­gles, were the first to take up the chal­lenge for The Sun­day Tele­graph and called on oth­ers to join them in suck­ing on a le­mon and post­ing the video on­line for char­ity.

Red Wig­gle Si­mon Pryce said he was proud to be part of the cam­paign and hoped it went vi­ral.

“It’s about bring­ing aware­ness to this ter­ri­ble thing that can hap­pen to chil­dren and to raise some funds for tri­als here in Aus­tralia so fam­i­lies don’t have to go over­seas,” he said.

The can­cer, dif­fuse in­trin­sic pon­tine glioma (DIPG), only af­fects chil­dren, is 100 per cent fa­tal and has an av­er­age sur­vival time of about nine months.

Few re­search dol­lars have been in­vested, which is why there has been no change since Neil Arm­strong lost his daugh­ter Karen to DIPG in 1962, fea­tured in the re­cent film First Man.

Annabelle was di­ag­nosed with DIPG two years ago and The Sun­day Tele­graph has fol­lowed her par­ents’ des­per­ate jour­ney to find a cure.

Doc­tors told Kathie and Adam Potts to go home and make a few last mem­o­ries with Annabelle be­cause there is no treat­ment in Aus­tralia.

But the Can­berra fam­ily flew to Mex­ico to trial ex­per­i­men­tal chemo­ther­apy at a se­cre­tive clinic.

Af­ter 10 rounds at $30,000 a pop, Annabelle’s tu­mour had shrunk but the joy was short-lived. The tu­mour came back. “I def­i­nitely thought Mex­ico bought her time but it was too risky for us to go back over there since she has had a de­cline,” Mrs Potts said.

“Plus I’m upset with them (the Mex­i­can doc­tors) be­cause they should be shar­ing what they are do­ing with the world and I’m upset we can’t do more ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ments for ter­mi­nally ill chil­dren here in Aus­tralia.”

The Le­mon Face Chal­lenge was in­vented by Aubreigh Ni­cholas, a 10year-old from Amer­ica who was di­ag­nosed with DIPG in Septem­ber 2017. Aubreigh died on Au­gust 15.

“It is so im­por­tant be­cause it helps raise aware­ness for DIPG and aware­ness equals fund­ing, which equals treat­ment. And it makes Annabelle laugh,” Mrs Potts said.

Annabelle re­cently un­der­went more ra­di­a­tion at The Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal at West­mead to buy more time and ral­lied to is­sue the chal­lenge.

“We need to keep her fight­ing and we need Aus­tralia to catch up, we need more money for more tri­als,” Mrs Potts said. “Please par­tic­i­pate.”

To take part, film your­self suck­ing on a le­mon, post it on­line and tag it: #lemon­facechal­lenge # LOVEFORANNABELLE # DIPGAWARENESS DO­NA­TIONS: HTTPS:// DONORBOX. ORG/ THEISABELLA- AND- MAR­CUS- FOUN­DA­TION

The Wig­gles were de­lighted to take the Le­mon Face Chal­lenge to raise aware­ness and money for child­hood brain can­cer. Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn Be­low: Annabelle Potts be­fore she lost her beau­ti­ful smile.

Wests Tiger Chris Lawrence tries the le­mon face chal­lenge to draw at­ten­tion to child­hood brain can­cer..

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