Earlier this month, Nathan Cayless from the Dyldam Parramatta Eels made a special visit to Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School to meet a young Parramatta fan, Annalise.

Annalise was diagnosed with DIPG, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma in February of this year. It is a very rare form of pediatric cancer, with only around 300 cases of it around the world.

September is Childhood Cancer awareness month in Australia, and Annalise’s family believe that promoting this aggressive disease will help create more awareness of it and help find the cure that they are so desperately looking for.

The chance of survival of DIPG is quite minimal, with statistics showing that less than 10% of DIPG children will live longer than 18 months from diagnosis. 

Annalise and her parents, Duane and Jacquie Holmes, are supporters of the Parramatta Eels, which is what led Nathan Cayless to Northmead CPA High School to try and help raise awareness for DIPG.

Annalise’s aunty, Jody Schreffler, says she would never have suspected her niece's diagnosis.

“It's incredibly aggressive. Annalise was diagnosed in February with it,” Jody said.

“Initially, they thought there was something wrong with her eyes. She was a perfectly healthy 13 year old.”

Annalise underwent six weeks of incredibly intensive radiation to try and shrink the tumor and make her comfortable, and Nathan’s visit was just after this round of treatment.

“When Nathan came to visit she was in her wheelchair and still alert. Now she is no longer eating and completely bed bound. She can’t talk anymore but is completely peaceful and comfortable,” Jody said.

“Her two best friends came to visit yesterday and you can see in the photo on the Facebook page. They are holding her hands, she is trying to smile.”

Jody, who has come from the United States to spend time with Annalise, said that having Nathan visit was very special for both Annalise and her family.

“I have always said how willing they are (Duane and Jacquie) to spend the time they have with others. You can see in Annalise’s face that there is a response,” Jody said.

“Obviously Annalise is sad, but she has not been bitter or angry.”

The Holmes family hopes to raise the awareness of this rare disease. You can join the Facebook page set up for Annalise, ‘Loving on Lisey’.

To donate, simply visit the Cancer Council Australia website.