This young mum went to her GP with unexplained weight gain. Now she’s fighting for her life

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A young Perth family is facing their third cancer battle, with mother-of-three Emma Eltringham diagnosed with an advanced tumour years after watching her young daughter beat the disease – twice.

Eltringham, 34, was diagnosed with a stage IV pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour in May 2022. Just seven years earlier, she had watched her then two-year-old daughter Ruby fight a rare acute myeloid leukaemia.

Emma Eltringham watched her daughter Ruby fight cancer. Now she has been diagnosed with a rare type which was almost missed by doctors.

Ruby had been in remission for a year, but relapsed and needed a bone marrow transplant, which saved her life.

Seven years later, Ruby was still clear of cancer and things were getting back to normal. Eltringham and her husband Joel had just bought a house when she received devastating news.

“I wasn’t unwell, but I started to gain a bit of weight, which was odd because I had a good diet and exercise routine going on,” she said.

“I went to the doctor and they didn’t think it was anything serious, but I asked for ultrasounds just in case.

Perth Mother Emma Eltringham with her family.

“They found lesions on my liver, and I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer.”

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours are primary central nervous system tumours which begin in the brain or spinal cord. They are often hard to diagnose.

The cancer is rare. Eltringham said there was one specialist nurse in the country who often made phone calls to patients.

She was told the only thing doctors could do was stabilise the cancer and manage it for as long as possible.

Due to the limited options offered by conventional medicine, Eltringham wants to fly to Mexico where she believes a doctor who specialises in alternative treatments could help. But it would cost at least $150,000.

Kara Nell and Amy Ryan – who Eltringham first met during Ruby’s cancer fight as they watched their own sons battle the same disease – have stepped in to help by creating a fundraising page aimed at getting their friend the money she needs. 

“Emma is such a strong, loving mum who will fight this and we want to provide her and Joel with the support they need to give her the best chance possible and also help ease financial stresses after all the other trauma the family has experienced over the years,” they said.

“We want to ensure they can spend time together as a family and that Emma can get the additional therapies she needs and the children can get the support they require without having to worry about making ends meet.”

The alternative treatment would involve three weeks of care, before flying home to continue on a strict regime provided by a doctor.

“My daughter just doesn’t understand what is happening, she doesn’t know why our family has to go through this again,” Eltringham said.

“I am determined to do whatever I can, and explore all options available, to be there for her and for our family.”

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