Oli Kavanagh gently helps his mum fill in the gaps when her words get muddled.
The 10-year-old boy is ready with big hugs and patient prompting as mum-of-three Sarah Waters recovers at their Beechworth home after life-saving brain surgery with Dr Charlie Teo.
Her partner, Andrew Kavanagh, said it was a huge relief to have Sarah on the other side of the risky $100,000 operation to remove an “inoperable” brain tumour and the children were delighted to have their mum home.
He said Sarah was making slow but steady progress since the surgery on October 24 but she was very tired and “still not herself”.
“She’s had a couple of crappy days with a lot of sleeping,” Andrew said this week.
“She’s up and walking but not super active yet; she’s talking but her speech is sometimes a bit scattered.”
Andrew said Sarah’s memory is “not real flash” but that was to be expected after such invasive surgery.
“She knows the kids but not their names,” he said.
“The kids have been awesome the whole way through; Oli’s quite switched on when Sarah’s not getting her words out the right way and helps prompt her.”
The family essentially enters the next leg of a gruelling marathon to recovery.
Sarah will return to Sydney for a follow-up appointment and MRI in the next six weeks where a further treatment plan will be outlined, Andrew said.
In the meantime they are exploring physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy options to maximise Sarah’s progress.
“You can tell she is slowly improving; we are trying to get her more active,” Andrew said.
“The surgeon said they had to poke around a fair bit to get to the tumour.
“He reckons it could be 12 to 18 months before we see a full recovery.
“The brain is amazing at regenerating itself but it takes time.
“We are just taking it day by day.”
Helping the family make it through each and every day has been the towering support of friends, neighbours and the wider Beechworth community.
“Without the support locally we would not have been able to get through,” Andrew admitted.
“I reckon half the town turned out for the Burpees for Brain Surgery event; it’s been unbelievable to see how much of a difference people power can make.
“One guy put $1000 on the table and then said if they completed another 1000 burpees he’d put in another $1000.
“I can’t put into words what it means to have that sort of support around you – it certainly makes things easier on the hard days.”