Sarah Waters is having one of her "good days".
And although she immediately apologises for being "hopeless at talking", this brave mum is warm, welcoming and quite chatty.
We're back sitting on the lounge at the Beechworth home she shares with partner Andrew Kavanagh and their children Oli, now 11, Archie, 7, and Sadie, 4.
It's been about six months since The Border Mail caught up with the family after Sarah's life-saving brain surgery with renowned neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo.
And it's been a rocky road to recovery since the first high-risk operation on October 24, 2018 when Dr Teo agreed to remove the tumour that a long line-up of surgeons had refused to touch.
The $100,000 surgery (funded through a well-supported gofundme campaign) carried a 15 per cent chance that Sarah would not speak again and would lose her long-term memory.
"They're not great odds but they aren't that bad either," Andrew said at the time.
"You have to weigh up the risks ... it's possible Sarah is going to die before Sadie has memories of her mother."
There's no question Sarah is extraordinarily grateful to be alive and sitting in the "beautiful" sanctuary that is her home and community.
Only three weeks ago she had to undergo a second life-saving operation - again under the expert hands of Dr Teo and his team of neurosurgeons at Sydney.
And while her words don't always come easily, Sarah is talking, she's laughing and, most importantly, she's still here to give her children those big mummy cuddles.
"We've had our ups and downs - definitely a lot of downs," says Andrew, sitting close by Sarah's side.
"I guess I didn't have any expectations (after the first surgery).
"When you get dealt a pretty shit hand, you don't expect things to be perfect."
For a while, they sort of were.
In the weeks and months following that first surgery, life wasn't back to normal but it was pretty positive for the close-knit family.
They spent a wonderful Christmas on the coast and Sarah was able to dramatically reduce her medication.
Then in January, out of the blue, Sarah had a seizure while Andrew and the kids were outside on their bikes.
She had been fortunate to secure in-home care and therapy support with a team of allied health professionals through the Wangaratta hospital.
Several of those "wonderful" staff were on hand to help when the seizure struck that time.
On another ordinary day in April, Sarah was doing the laundry when she just felt the need to stop and rest for a moment.
"I thought, 'I"ll just sit here a minute and then I lay down'," she recalls.
"I can remember being aware of where Andrew and the kids were but ... not much after that."
Oli found his mother on the floor, the ambulance was called and Sarah was taken to Albury base hospital and underwent an MRI.
The return of the seizures was as devastating as it was worrying; it was time to consult again with Dr Teo.
I didn't have any expectations. When you get dealt a pretty shit hand, you don't expect things to be perfect.Andrew Kavanagh
Andrew and Sarah flew to Sydney to see him on May 21, prior to his departure for overseas commitments.
"He had a different team of neurosurgeons at the time and they were all trying to work out what was going on," Andrew recalls.
"Sarah was on anti-seizure medication but having breakthrough seizures so they decided there must be tumour growth and they needed to operate again - and fast."
A second MRI showed a "big change" in the tumour.
"Charlie said it was in an even trickier spot and had moved into a fairly important part of the brain; it was affecting speech and memory," Andrew says.
The couple flew home late that evening to tell their children in person that mummy needed another operation before returning to Sydney the very next day for surgery.
"We found out just before we went in (for the five-hour surgery) that it wasn't looking good," Sarah recalls shakily.
"If we hadn't decided to have the operation that day, I wouldn't have been here six weeks later."
On Monday Sarah begins the next stage of her gruelling battle when she starts intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre.
"Yes, there is a lot going on," Andrew smiles ruefully.
"There's always worry there - I try not to focus on that."
But the strain is there; glimpses of a muddled memory and loss of confidence in everyday tasks once performed automatically.
"I'm tired," Sarah admits.
"I'm not as active as I was and that's particularly hard with the kids.
"I have to be realistic about how short a period it has been since the operation.
"I think I'll be right but I have to take it slowly."
There's an up side to all the down sides though, laughs Sarah cheekily.
"Andrew is cooking big time now - he's always cooked but he's next level," she laughs.
"The kids love his chicken curry."
"I'm the domestic goddess now," Andrew adds.
On May 7, Sarah turned 39 and they invited the whole street for Andrew's slow-cooked tacos.
"It was just lovely," Sarah says.
"My memory's not great and it's hard to put into words but I just want to thank everyone who has helped and supported us."
From neighbours to family and friends near and far, and the wider Beechworth community, love and support has continued to flow generously.
"I just love it when a mate pops in or a friend comes up from Melbourne," Sarah says.
"I'm a bit stuck; I'm not driving and I'm home all the time.
"But so many people have offered to help with minding the children, travel to and from chemo or just bringing us a meal."
"It's an amazing town - we are so lucky we moved here," Andrew agrees.
As for the three little people most profoundly affected by all of this - Oli, Archie and Sadie - well, they are the most remarkable of all, according to their proud parents.
"The kids can't process everything as well as we could but they have been amazing," Andrew says.
"They can read when Sarah is not up for mucking around; they know when to give her space on the lounge."
Sarah cherishes most just hanging out with her kids.
"I can still laugh and I can still hug them," she says.
"And that's enough ... for now."