IN the darkest time of her life, Charlie McNaughton had more than enough distractions to take her mind off what was going on.
For this, her parents Shara and Leigh McNaughton will be forever grateful.
Charlie, 9, spent two weeks in total at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne after a brain tumour was found during an MRI.
Her health battle began when she was 3 and she started experiencing seizures.
"On her third birthday we were at the Warrnambool hospital and they diagnosed her with epilepsy," Mrs McNaughton said.
Over the next six months, Charlie's seizures worsened and she was experiencing them up to two times a day.
"When we got down to Geelong for an MRI they discovered a mass," Mrs McNaughton said.
A DNET brain tumour, found in the frontal lobe, was discovered.
Charlie underwent surgery to have most of the mass removed.
Doctors warned her parents the surgery may affect her speech and ability to move her legs.
But soon after she was down watching the meerkats at the hospital and spending time in the hospital's Starlight Express room.
Doctors were surprised when part of Charlie's tumour grew back and warned Mr and Mrs McNaughton their daughter would probably be in the hospital for a month for the second surgery.
But in keeping with her resilient nature, Charlie bounced back in almost record time and was keen to explore all the hospital had to offer.
"She bounced back pretty quick," Mrs McNaughton said.
"When she woke up from the surgery she said she wanted to draw."
The couple said the hospital staff were incredibly supportive.
Mrs McNaughton said staff did everything in their power to make the patients' stay as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible in the circumstances.
This is evident when talking to Charlie, who has only happy memories of her time at the hospital - talking about the meerkats and Ralph the therapy dog when asked about it.
The McNaughtons have urged Warrnambool and district residents to dig deep for the Good Friday Appeal to allow the hospital to continue to care for and nurture sick children.
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