Mother’s Story | How Paramedics saved us during daughter’s brain tumour ordeal

“If it wasn’t for those paramedics, I wouldn’t have been able to be the Mum my daughter needed.”

Brave and loving mother of Eva-Rae, Cheryl York tells her terrifying ordeal that started the day a tumour was discovered on her daughter’s brain.

Her story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, as she recounts the nightmare discovery of her daughter’s tumour and proceeding days and months of uncertainty and turmoil, which was made more bearable by the skill and care of Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics who were by their side during crucial moments that fateful day.

No one ever considers how life can change dramatically from one day to the next.

Cheryl recounts, “My daughter started getting really bad headaches. […] about three months later, she started saying that she was struggling to see the board at school.”

Cheryl took Eva-Rae to an optometrist who wrote a note for her to take to the emergency department. Soon after, scans revealed a mass behind her eye.

Eva-Rae was immediately transferred from Gold Coast to Brisbane children’s hospital in her first-ever ambulance trip. Cheryl tells how the attending paramedic was able to help her from “losing the plot” amid her emotional turmoil.

“He actually put me to work, which was really great. He was just telling me to read her signs. Read the numbers on the machine. I really thought I might lose the plot. You know, my daughter’s sitting there. We are petrified. We have no idea what’s going on. […] and this paramedic was just awesome. Asking Eva-Rae where did she go to school. What was she studying? […] but I think more than anything as, as her mum to be kept busy, that was for me, the biggest thing.”

Over the next several months Cheryl and Eva-Rae would have numerous trips in ambulances travelling to and from hospitals, many times in emergency situations due to symptoms and abnormalities recurring unexpectedly. In those moments they not only needed the medical care and attention but that human touch.

“I think the human element is massive. I really do. […] If they had been super cold or just, just professional and left it at that, I know for sure I would’ve lost the plot. I know it. And you can’t do that as a parent.

[…] When you are in a situation where you have no idea how you can even breathe, and all of a sudden somebody’s taking care of you, And as a mum, I know that I would have to step back, even though I’d wanna hug my daughter, I’d have to step back and let them do their job, cuz that’s where they’re trained for. But looking after me as well, that was huge.”

It’s hard to fathom the toll such an ordeal takes on both patients and their loved ones. Paramedics and emergency health care staff are the ones there in our darkest hours of pain, uncertainty, despair and overwhelm. They play a critical and often thankless role. As we’ve so often heard from those in the field, to become a paramedic is no light vocation, but can be one of the most rewarding.

And it’s not simply about knowing the right health care treatments and protocols. From Cheryl’s perspective, it was the human element that left a lasting impact.

“And those paramedics to us saved us. And it’s not because they were technical. It’s not because they were medical. I expect the paramedics, I expect them to do that job. […] What I didn’t expect was that care and kindness, and that made the difference.”

At the time of recording our interview with Cheryl, Eva-Rae was still in and out of hospital with continued medical complications. We thank Cheryl for bravely sharing her story and wish Eva-Rae the best of health and a speedy recovery.

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