THE past few months have been tough on Horsham five-year-old Braxton Williams, his mother Sarah Lee and partner Jayden Clugston.
But the support of the Wimmera community, which will culminate in a fundraiser at the Victoria Hotel on Sunday, is making a difference.
After Brax was diagnosed with a low-grade Glioma - a brain cancer that had damaged nerves in his eye - in January, Ms Lee and Brax regularly had to travel to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne for chemotherapy. Mr Clugston is a truck driver by trade.
Last month Ms Lee sold her Horsham house and left her part time job in administration, signing a 12-month lease on an apartment in Footscray.
"Moving was something we'd discussed on and off during the year, but then the doctors were looking at increasing Braxton's chemotherapy dosage to once every three weeks. They wanted us to stay in Melbourne for about to week to see how we'd cope," she said.
"I had contacted real estate agent Rob Dolan about selling my house and we pretty much made the move within about a week."
Ms Lee said an average week for her and Brax involved helping him take his medications and go through his morning routine, and either a round of chemotherapy or a series of visits to the hospital for blood tests, a psychologist, neuropsychologist and physiotherapist.
She said Brax was a smart, active and switched-on child before his diagnosis, enrolled to start at Horsham West Primary School at the beginning of 2019.
"He was very social, like he enjoyed going to kinder and meeting up with his friends," she said.
"He was home from Melbourne in time to start his first day of school, but he only went for about half an hour. Then we ended up in the Horsham hospital overnight and a week later we were back down in Melbourne because he had fluid building up on the brain again, so he had another two operations.
"I think the hardest thing is normality for Braxton at the moment: it's so different to what any other five-year-old would consider normal.
"From January until April he'd spent about 12 weeks in hospital. I try to give him the heads up as much as I can when we need to go see a doctor so it's not so daunting, but I think that sort of gets to him after a while. He was so excited to go to school and he hasn't been able to do that this year. He's longing to be like any other five-year-old."
Ms Lee said it was worth Wimmera parents educating themselves on the symptoms of brain cancer, which for Brax included not sleeping, vomiting, blurred vision and a loss of balance.
"I'd like to get the awareness out there," she said.
Ms Lee said the fundraiser would mean a lot to Brax.
"On the day I'll get family and friends to take photos and send them through so he can see what's going on," she said.
She said she and her partner eventually hoped to move back to Horsham with Brax.
"Jayden and I never expected the support would be to this extent, where even people we don't know have been happy to rally together for us. That's very overwhelming and heartfelt," she said. "Once we get Brax back on track we definitely want to give back to other people in this situation."
The fundraiser, "Beers and a Bid for Brax", is being organised by Ms Lee's family and friends. From 11am until late there will be raffles, face painting, an auction of goods including medallion club seats at Marvel Stadium. For every parmigiana sold during lunch the Victoria Hotel is donating $10 to the cause.
The proceeds of the fundraiser will go to Wimmera Against Cancer in Kids, which will distribute the money to Brax's family as they need it. WACK trustee Brendan McKinnon said Robert Dolan and other family friends approached him about holding an event for Brax a month ago.
"About $4500 has been given directly to the account so far, which is a great response prior to the actual event," he said.
"Not many Wimmera families we help relocate like this - often they go stay at Ronald McDonald House - but because Brax has got such a long-term treatment his mother decided they would set up a home in a family environment at Footscray.
"It's the living away from home expenses WACK tries to help with, whether that's petrol vouches for travelling to and from Melbourne or any other expenses they incur."
Mr Dolan said family and friends were hoping to raise $20,000 for Brax and his parents.
He said every $5000 above this total would be donated to Ronald McDonald House to renovate rooms in which families stay while their child is undergoing treatment at the Royal Children's Hospital.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.