LOTTIE Wallace has a smile that lights up every room and a love of all creatures great and small.
The nine-year-old dreams of one day working as a zookeeper and is at ease feeding the chickens, birds, rabbit, cat and dog on her family's Nullawarre property.
But her vivacious smile hides a two-year battle with a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
Her parents Alisha and Allan recalled the frightening night she became terribly ill.
"I picked her up from school one Friday and she said she felt a bit dizzy," Mrs Wallace said.
"I had to go into town because her older sisters had netball training. We went to town and within an hour she was having seizures in the car and her eyes were rolling back."
Terrified, Mrs Wallace took her straight to South West Healthcare's Warrnambool Base Hospital.
At first she was diagnosed with vertigo, but when her condition worsened she was given an MRI.
This scan showed a mass and a bleed on the brain, which had led to a stroke.
Lottie was partially paralysed on her left side and was rushed to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
There, doctors discovered an AVM - a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.
The parents were told to stay near the hospital for a week while the swelling on Lottie's brain reduced to allow her to undergo surgery.
Lottie underwent surgery to have coils inserted in her brain to reduce the risk of bleeding and 48 hours later she underwent major brain surgery to have the AVM removed.
Her parents faced an anxious 15-hour wait and were told Lottie may struggle to talk or use her left hand side when she awoke.
They recall the precious moment when their daughter was able to perfectly articulate the name of her school - Nullawarre and District Primary School - not long after surgery.
"They said she was like a miracle child, they could not believe how well she recovered," Mrs Wallace said.
Sadly, tests last year found the presence of an AVM, with doctors not sure if it is remnants of the original mass or a new one.
Lottie's surgeon said it was too dangerous to remove the mass because it sits on her brain stem.
"He said he would never touch her because she would have a massive stroke," Mrs Wallace said.
In September last year Lottie underwent an intensive round of radiotherapy.
Now the family faces another anxious wait to find out if the radiation has shrunk the tumour.
Mrs Wallace said it could take up to two years to find out whether the radiation had been fully successful.
She said doctors advised the family there was a 60 to 70 per cent chance it would be.
However, if the tumour has grown, Lottie will probably have to undergo another round of radiotherapy.
Mr Wallace said Lottie had always been like his shadow growing up - following him wherever he went . He said his daughter was very resilient and rarely complained.
Lottie said elephants were her favourite animal and she loved the new movie Dumbo.
"I give it 10 out of 10 - no 100 out of 10," she said.
They have urged south-west residents to dig deep for the Good Friday Appeal to support children going through battles like Lottie.
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