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Annie's cancer battle brings community out in force

Family friend Peter Oliver has been helping with fundraising for Canberra toddler Annie McGuigan, who has a brain tumour.

Family friend Peter Oliver has been helping with fundraising for Canberra toddler Annie McGuigan, who has a brain tumour. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Two-year-old Annalee - Annie - McGuigan is a truly treasured child.

Her parents Lauren and Troy tried for many years to have a baby, including through IVF.

They had all but given up hope when Mrs McGuigan conceived naturally in 2010.

Now they are in the battle of their lives to save their little girl. Annie has a brain tumour that is said to be a three-in-a-million cancer.

The Macgregor toddler has had a barrage of tests and treatments since she first started losing her balance late last year. The large tumour was discovered in March.

An operation at Sydney Children's Hospital that same month did not remove all the tumour.

Annie has now had seven operations and the little girl and her parents go back and forth between Canberra and Sydney for her treatment, which includes radiation and chemotherapy and possibly further surgery.

She has also battled infections including meningitis.

The McGuigans have put their lives on hold so they can be with their daughter during her treatment.

It's back to Sydney again on Monday for more radiotherapy. The little girl, who loves Peppa Pig, reading books and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is showing amazing determination and strength. She is ''the light of so many lives''.

''She's a bit of an old soul actually,'' Mrs McGuigan said. ''Very compassionate. She gets more upset if people around her are upset.''

The family has had a rush of support from the Canberra district community, including their friend Peter Oliver, a recycling bin truck driver for Cleanaway who has used his spare time to co-ordinate a fundraising effort for them.

Working nights and weekends, ''Uncle Pete'' has helped to raise $60,000 for the family through raffles, trivia events, door-knocking businesses and a family fun day.

It helps them not have to worry about bills and to remain together as a family unit while Annie undergoes treatment in Sydney, staying at Ronald McDonald House in Randwick.

''You can't do anything else but help,'' Mr Oliver said. ''People in Boorowa have been very good. Businesses in Canberra have been donating stuff left, right and centre.''

Mr Oliver and Mr McGuigan went to school together at Boorowa High, and Mrs McGuigan and Mr Oliver's wife, Katie, were at school together at Ginninderra High.

Mrs McGuigan, who works at ACT Policing, and Mr McGuigan, who works in sales, said the support was overwhelming.

''You never think you're going to be in that position. You think you will be the one helping people,'' Mrs McGuigan said.

She is pregnant, with the baby due in October, but the focus now is on Annie.

While Annie is feeling the full effects of the chemotherapy, a follow-up MRI has found the remaining tumour is shrinking and has not spread.

Her parents believe ''there is hope. She still has a long road ahead of her, but there is hope.'.

■ Fundraising events for Annie are at the Facebook page Annalee McGuigan Fundraising Events. facebook.com/pages/Annalee-Mcguigan-Fundraising-Events/509894172400384

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