Raising a mountain of money to cure Kids Brain Cancer

By The Isabella and Marcus Paediatric Brainstem Tumour Fund, a subfund of Australian Communities Foundation

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Our Story

Isabella was 5 years old and the last piece in the jigsaw that was our family. One day her eyes crossed and our lives were forever changed. Isabella had a brain tumour, an incurable form called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

After her death, we (Khush & Rob, Isabella’s parents) together with Tony and Daniela (parents of Marcus) established the Isabella and Marcus Fund, to raise money for research. As a community, we can make a difference and stop this cancer from taking the lives of children in the future.

Isabella, before her brain tumour was diagnosed

The difiguring effects of DIPG. Isabella was saddened by the way she looked.

The Goal

The charity is funding 3 research projects and has provided 2 PhD scholarships. It is vital that we continue to fund this research and this is why we are climbing Mt Kilimanjaro (Aug 23rd - Aug 30th), Africa’s tallest mountain (5895 m/19,341 ft). It’s a tremendous challenge for us, but nothing compared to the challenge faced by the children who develop DIPG.

The Research

The projects are studying DIPG to understand what is causing this cancer. This knowledge will be used to develop what is called a ‘mouse model’ - which replicates the cancer in laboratory mice. The mice can then be used to evaluate new chemotherapies. Those therapies that work in mice, and are safe, can then be used in children with some confidence that it might work. When the model is developed it will be shared with all DIPG researchers around the world, to enable a concerted effort to cure this cruel cancer.

Let us introduce the Researchers

  • Associate Professor Jeffrey Mann,
    Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Dr Jason Cain,
    Monash Institute of Medical Research – Prince Henry’s Institute
  • Dr Jacqueline Donoghue,
    Monash Institute of Medical Research - Prince Henry’s Institute
  • Professor Peter Downie,
    Head, Children’s Cancer Centre, Monash Medical Centre
  • Dr Lee Wong, Monash University


DIPG is a brain cancer that occurs in the brainstem, at the base of the brain. Animation of the brainstem.

Surgery is not possible. Radiotherapy is offered to reduce the size of the tumour and give the kids some extra time, but it cannot kill all the tumour.

Isabella, about to receive one of 30 radiotherapy sessions

With very rare exceptions every child dies. Most of the kids die within a year of diagnosis. DIPG is a cruel cancer because it affects one nerve after another, reducing their quality of life dramatically, until it eventually compresses on the nerves for vital functions that keep us alive.

Research is powerful. The benefits are obvious for cancers such as childhood leukemia. If the same investment is made for brain tumours, survival rates will also increase until one day, a diagnosis of DIPG will no longer be a death sentence.

Tax deductibility

All donation of $2 or more are fully tax deductible (Australia only) . Receipts will be issued after the campaign ends.

Who’s behind this campaign

Khush and Robert De Rose. They are funding this activity entirely themselves. Therefore, every dollar that is donated will go to the charity to fund the research.

Daniela and Tony Ruberto, Marcus' parents are co-founders of the charity.

Patron: The Hon Martin Dixon, Minister for Education, Victoria

Ambassadors: The Wiggles, Andrew Bogut

Other ways you can help

We understand that not everybody can contribute financially. You can help us by sharing this campaign. SPREAD THE WORD!!!

For more information

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Team Members

Khush & Rob De Rose