Ready to start Prep after chemotherapy

Hannah Zappelli said relatives, friends and the Colac community had helped the family during the past six months as her daughter Pippa, centre, underwent cancer treatment.

A brave young Colac girl is excited to start primary school after finishing the toughest stage of her cancer journey.

Colac’s Zappelli family cheered at Royal Children’s Hospital as five-year-old Pippa rang the Survivor’s Bell to celebrate her final round of chemotherapy.

Pippa’s mother Hannah said the family’s lives were all turned upside down in June when then-four-year-old Pippa was diagnosed with stage three-to-four Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that is extremely rare in children under 10.

Pippa underwent six chemotherapy cycles in six months at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, which reduced her immune system, took her hair and separated her and Hannah from the rest of the family for days and weeks at a time.

Hannah said a crowd of family, friends, nurses and doctors gathered at the ward in the children’s hospital last week to watch Pippa ring the bell.

“The nurses got everyone together and they played the music,” she said.

“She walked out in front of the crowd and led the group down to the bell, and she probably got a little bit overwhelmed when she just went to ring it, it was something she had wanted to do for months.

“Everyone clapped and cheered – once she had done it she was just beaming with pride, it was amazing.”

Hannah said the Zappellis spent a relaxed Christmas together after a chaotic six months since the diagnosis, and were looking forward to the new year when Pippa would begin primary school at Colac West Primary School.

“She is so excited to start school – she was telling the nurses on the ward yesterday, ‘I have been dreaming of school since I was a baby, and now I get to go!’
“The school community has been amazing; already this past year they had a fundraiser for Pippa where the Grade Six boys shaved their head to raise money for her,” she said.

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