AT just nine years old, Pippa Rea is learning French, practising yoga and will soon take up the drums.
The pupil at St Joseph’s primary in Warrnambool has also been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.
The past few weeks have been far from normal. Instead of sitting in her grade 3 classroom, Pippa has faced a whirl of radiotherapy treatments and medical specialists.
In less than a fortnight she’ll start 12 months of intensive chemotherapy to keep the tumour at bay.
With just a small window of opportunity, some kind- hearted supporters have moved quickly behind the scenes to bring some magic into the youngster’s life.
Volunteers from Make-A-Wish Australia made a surprise appearance yesterday during her school excursion at the Codrington wind farm, holding plane tickets for Queensland.
“She has always wanted to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef and she does love beaches and palm trees,” Pippa’s mother Virginia said.
“She spends most of her time at the beach in summer, so she’ll be very happy to go.
“We’re staying in Palm Cove, which will be lovely for her. They’ve also organised a visit to the Cairns zoo so she’ll get to cuddle a koala.”
At 6am Saturday, Pippa, her mother and older brothers James, 13, and Patrick, 11, will board a plane for Queensland for seven days of swimming and sightseeing.
“I’ve only been there once when I was five,” Pippa said.
It was a shy response as Make-A-Wish delivered the tickets.
Pippa shuffled her feet and grinned slightly as her family and teachers made the big fanfare in front of her class, seated underneath the swooshing blades of a wind turbine.
But in front of the doctors, the nine-year-old has been defiant and according to her mother isn’t letting any diagnosis change what it means to be a kid.
“She has been amazing and she has been an inspiration,” Virginia said.
“Her attitude has been incredible. If you were to ask her she’d say she wasn’t sick and she doesn’t act like she’s sick.
“She’s been learning French. She’s doing yoga and she’s taking up the drums as therapy — it’s something the doctors have recommended that she needs to do.”
Pippa isn’t short on humour either.
The Standard asked her if she could count to 10 in French since taking up lessons.
“No,” she said, before giving it a moment and then counting to 20.
Make-A-Wish Australia’s Portland branch covers the south-west with just over 20 members.
Volunteer Koreen Dennert said the timing of Pippa’s wish had been tricky, but the group and family had pulled together to make it happen.
“To see that look on a child’s face is priceless,” she said.