Aussie boy, 11, diagnosed with brain cancer after sudden onset of symptoms at school

Left - The Beaton Family; Right - Jed Beaton
The sporty, football-loving 11-year-old "couldn't even tell us his name, or who I was". Photo credit: 7News / GoFundMe

Just hours after a Queensland mum dropped her son at school, she received a life-changing call - and by the end of the day, her healthy, energetic 11-year-old was in an induced coma. 

That Friday in late November 2022, Elise Beaton, a 42-year-old mum-of-two from Sunshine Beach, was called by a staff member to say her son Jed was behaving "very out of character" and experiencing dizziness, as well as severe "pulsating" in his arm that had prevented him from pulling out his own chair. He was being monitored in the school's sick bay, the staffer said, and was "very out of it". 

Speaking to 7News in an interview published on Sunday, Beaton described how she rushed her "vague", "disoriented" and vomiting son to Noosa Hospital, where the sporty, football-loving 11-year-old "couldn't even tell us his name, or who I was". 

Shortly after arriving at the emergency department, Jed suffered a seizure and was quickly put into an induced coma. 

"I was so shocked because I dropped him off at school at 8:30 in the morning and by 11am, this is what was happening at the hospital," Beaton told 7News. "It was just shocking because he was such a healthy and active kid."

Later that day, Beaton and her husband Jason were boarding a helicopter to Brisbane as Jed was transferred to Queensland Children's Hospital, where he was taken into intensive care to undergo an MRI scan. Two tumours were detected on Jed's brain and the following morning, staff informed the family that Jed had brain cancer, diagnosing him with a high-grade neuroepithelial tumour. 

A week later, he underwent emergency brain surgery and after further testing, the diagnosis was changed to high-grade glioma, a type of tumour formed in the brain or spinal cord through the abnormal growth of glial cells.

"It was shocking for us because he wasn't showing any symptoms before," Beaton told the outlet. "At this point, it's an incurable cancer. A lot of kids - at least a third to a half of kids - don't make it through. We pray that he's in the small percentage that do."

According to Beaton, Jed will need to undergo six to seven weeks of radiation, which he began earlier this month, and take a chemotherapy drug simultaneously - but if that treatment plan is unsuccessful, there aren't many other options available. 

"Because of the new diagnosis and because it is such a serious type of brain cancer, they decided to start the chemo drug straight away," she said.

"We'll see if there are other options for Jed if for some reason this radiation and chemo doesn't work. It's just something that we have to wait for, week by week, and just pray there are more options for him if this doesn't work."

Following the life-changing diagnosis, the Beatons made the decision to relocate indefinitely back to their hometown of Melbourne, in order to have the support of their family during this difficult time. Now, Beaton, her husband and their teenage daughter Liv are trying to remain positive, knowing there's a long road ahead for Jed.

A GoFundMe has also been established, with the couple hoping to donate extra funds to charities that support victims of gliomas and research initiatives. At the time of writing, AU$76,000 has already been raised to help ease the family's financial pressures and assist with Jed's medical bills. 

"He's been amazing with everything," Beaton told the outlet. "He's just a great kid."

Jed, described on the family's GoFundMe as a "fit, gorgeous 11-year-old boy," is continuing his treatment at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.