A father-of-four was diagnosed with stage three brain cancer and the family raises funds to fly him to Sidney for surgery- His 7-year-old daughter auctions hand-painted tea towels to help raise money for the $100,000 trip.
Life is unpredictable and can change in an instant. This has happened to a family back in March 2019, when a father-of-four was diagnosed with stage three brain cancer.
Diego Wernicke, a tattoo artist, had a seizure in front of his two eldest daughters, Luna, age five, and Mili, age three, outside their home in Gold Coast. The girls called for help from the neighbors, and the 47-year-old father was rushed to the hospital when doctors discovered his cancer.
The tumor is in a high-risk area of the brain, so doctors refuse to operate on it. Now, Diego’s wife, Hayley Allen, 32, struggles to fly her husband to Sidney, as the renowned brain surgeon Charlie Teo is their only hope.
Meanwhile, their 7-year-old daughter auctions hand-painted tea towels for up to $130 each to help raise money for the $100,000 surgery.
- The Allen family: Hayley Allen, 32, Diego Wernicke, 47, Folk, five months, Luna, seven, Inca, two-and-a-half, Mili, five
- Luna auctions hand-painted tea towels for up to $130 each to help raise money for her father’s surgery with Dr. Charlie Teo
- Without the surgery, the short prognosis ensures their five-month-old son Folk, won’t be able to create memories with his father
The mother, a former freelance photographer, said:
“Charlie Teo believes he can get 99 percent of the tumor out. They can never give you a definitive answer, but the operation would potentially add years and years on to his life, compared to the 12 months or so he has now.”
In the case of the short prognosis, the 5-month-old son Folk, who was conceived before the discovery of the tumor, won’t get the chance to create memories with his father.
Yet, to do the surgery, Mr. Teo must be invited to Queensland by a public hospital, something that has not happened in 35 years.
- A tea towel hand-painted by Mr. Wernicke’s daughter Luna
- The couple have started fundraising to be able to pay for the trip to Sidney
The family asked for doctors letters and recommendations in an attempt to fly him over the border, but had no luck, so they started fundraising to fly Diego to Sydney.
Ms. Allen says they will keep struggling, so she could tell their children she “tried everything to keep their dad alive.”
The first seizure of the father had a huge impact on their 7-year-old daughter Luna. The mother explained the girl has broken down, “crying “I don’t want Daddy to die”.
They have even got her seeing a therapist to talk to during these difficult times.
- Mr. Wernicke lying in hospital during his treatment for a stage three brain tumor
- Diego with one of his young children in hospital
- Ms. Allen said Mr. Teo told the family he could operate tomorrow if the family secured the funds
The incredible little girl has been auctioning painted tea towels on Instagram to help fly her father to Sydney. She has contributed $600 so far, with the highest bidders handing over $130 for a single towel.
Ms. Allen added that Mr. Teo told them he could operate tomorrow if the family secured the funds. During this time, the family gives their best to stretch every cent and provide Diego the treatments he needs, pay the rent, and buy food.
- Luna has been auctioning painted tea towels on Instagram
- Ms. Allen said she likes keeping busy to avoid the stress of looking after their children and her sick husband
“It has been hard because Diego hasn’t been able to work since he got sick, and he can’t drive so I have to take the kids to school and take him to appointments.
At the beginning of this year, we had no money and dropped the amount of cannabis oil we were giving him, then he had more growth, all the while I was about to have our little boy.”
The family was forced to move to a more affordable area in Beaudesert during his first six weeks of chemotherapy.
Ms. Allen says that she keeps herself busy so she could cope with the entire situation:
“When I stop, my brain starts ticking over and it becomes very overwhelming, so I’m very active and try to stay focused on what I’m doing.”
In a post on the GoFundMe page, she said she ‘felt awful’ for being ‘another person asking for lifesaving treatment’, but she knew she had to try. While the treatment costs $100,000, the family will need more for their travel and quarantine, so they have set a GoFundMe goal of $150,000.
People have been incredibly kind and generous so far, and the family hopes they would be able to raise the rest and the father can get for the surgery that can save their lives for the better.