Charli keen to get back on the paddock

Charli Berghauser is one tough cookie.

Doctors discovered the nine-year-old rugby league player had a pineal cystic tumour in her brain nearly 18 months ago, and despite the very real possibility of blindness, paraplegia or even death, Charli braved surgery on Monday to have it removed. 

Charli's parents Kas Humphry and Tony Berghauser, who are a big part of the Jimboomba Thunder rugby league community, relentlessly fundraised for five months to source the $100,000 needed for the operation.

The Men of League Foundation donated $35,000 to help the operation happen sooner than it would have.

Humphry said she was blown away by the generosity of everyone who helped make it happen. 

Renowned surgeon Charlie Teo successfully operated on the huge Brisbane Broncos fan at Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Sydney, and Humphry said she could not be more relieved.

Humphry said every operation had its risks, but because Teo needed to go "deep inside the brain", the risks were high. 

"Charli is not only brave, she is strong and a true fighter," Humphry said.

"Charli knew the risks - we didn’t keep any of that from her, and she said 'I don't care - get it out'... she's such a trooper."

Humphry said recovery, depending on how Charli went, should take six weeks; and as much as the Year 5 pupil would love to run out for her team soon after, Humphry said she had convinced her to wait until next season. 

Charli in action.
Charli in action.

Prior to the operation, Charli – described by mum as “very outspoken, very demanding, but has the biggest heart” - suffered from a constant headache, blurry vision, irregular sleeping patterns, pins and needles in her hands and feet, dizzy spells, mind blanks, nose bleeds, severe mood changes and uncontrollable outbursts.

Her three siblings - older brothers Jackson and Aiden, and little sister Ruby - could not handle being around her and Humphry said she felt like she was losing her family. 

Now, the entire family can't wait to have Charli home; she will rest and recover in Sydney for the next week before heading home to a barrage of big hugs. 

"She's in pain but she's pushing through it," Humphry said.

"Her older brothers are stoked - they're over the moon... I can't wait to have our future."

"I can't wait to have our future."

Kas HumphryCharli's mum

Charli always wanted to play rugby league just like her two big brothers, and in 2015, she played her first season at Jimboomba Thunder; she loved scoring tries and learning how to tackle the boys.

Charli - a huge fan of Ali Brigginshaw, Meg Ward and Chelsea Baker - played again in 2016, and was awarded the "Miss No Nonsense" Award at the end of the season. 

Charli with Ali Brigginshaw and Meg Ward just before Christmas.
Charli with Ali Brigginshaw and Meg Ward just before Christmas.

Just before the season breakup in October 2017, Charli was diagnosed with the pineal cystic tumour; and she was unable to play last year. 

"As heartbreaking as it was for Charli to watch her team play on the weekends, she was there to help her coach with the stats of the game," Humphry said. 

"But all she wanted to do was put on her boots and play with her team mates... she felt like she was letting them down, week after week."

Men of League Queensland wellbeing manager Mark Bunting said "the story of how the tumour was affecting Charli and her family affected me and I just wanted to help if we could". 

The AB Paterson College community - one not connected to Charli or her family - was also very generous, donating $25,000 after hearing of Charli's struggles. 

Bunting said he could not wait to see Charli back to her old self, running amok on the rugby league field. 

 

Queenslanders are rallying behind a little girl from Jimboomba after she was diagnosed with having a brain tumour. #9News | http://9News.com.au

Posted by 9 News on Saturday, 2 February 2019