This year’s Great Irish Bake will raise vital funds to support sick children in CHI at Crumlin and Temple Street. Children just like Saoírse.
Saoírse was a happy-go-lucky seven-year-old child, attending school, involved in activities and music. One day out of the blue she had some discomfort in her ankle, she felt it was injured from sport at school. We kept an eye on it and then brought her to GP, who referred her for an x-ray. Our initial fear was that it was a break. We went from the doctors to A&E, where she had an x-ray and was sent home with a temporary cast.
Two days later we got a call from the Orthopaedic department in University Hospital Galway, they wanted us to go back in to run some tests. She had a full day of tests and scheduled for an MRI the next morning. After the MRI we went to CHI at Crumlin for a biopsy, at this stage we feared what we might be dealing with.
I will never forget walking into CHI at Crumlin on that first day and thinking, why are we here, this is serious. Saoírse had the biopsy and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, cancer of the bone. It is a very rare life threatening cancer, it affects, on average, 3 children in Ireland every year.
We then met Dr, Michael Capra and the oncology team, they advised that Saoírse would have intense chemotherapy over 9-12 months, starting on 13th December. It was mentioned at this meeting that there may be a possibility of amputation as Saoírse’s tumour was located in the tibia. This possibility was revisited in January.
Dr. Capra and Saoírse had built up a great rapport, he is so good with kids. He was with us when we told Saoirse about the amputation, he really was a great support.
Saoírse had the amputation on 18th March, we travelled up on St. Patrick’s night, for surgery the following day.
Saoírse has been amazing throughout all of this and has handled everything so well. When she came around after her operation she said, “I’m so proud i got rid of my leg Mamma, because I got rid of my cancer”, I thought it was such a mature thing to say, she has unbelievable strength.
The most challenging part of Saoírse being in hospital (apart from the seriousness of her diagnosis) was that our family was split, Farrah Rose was only 11 months when Saoírse was diagnosed. Saoírse and myself would often be gone for days, I found this one the hardest parts. Lockdown was hard for us too, at the start Saoírse’s Dad might surprise us at the hospital – this would give us a real lift. But then with COVID-19 he couldn’t do this, only one of us could be with her.
We made some really good friends at the hospital, each and every one of the staff were amazing. We used to have great chats with the cleaners and the security were unbelievably helpful, we got to know them all so well. The nursing staff and doctors were fantastic, Saoírse was not only an oncology patient but also saw another team for her amputation, they were all so good to us. Saoirse’s Orthopaedic Surgeon was Dr. Alan Molloy, he played a huge part in her journey.
Saoírse loved the Play Specialists, she looked for them every morning. She couldn’t control anything about her situation but things like the Play Specialists gave her a little distraction, a chance to play and do art.
The school was another amazing service, she looked forward to it every day. The length of time would vary as they were trying to get to everyone, but it could be twenty minutes to an hour each day. It was great for me too, it was my chance to go to the shop or to have a shower.
When I think back to Saoírse’s time in hospital, there were more lows than highs. The most difficult part was being given the diagnosis – that really shook us. But, one fantastic moment that will always stand out to us as a family, was the day that Saoírse finished chemo and got to ring the bell, a lot of the team were there to clap her. That memory is very special to us. After that we were leaving and able to go home.
Saoírse spent a lot of time in St. John’s ward, we often talk about the long walk to get to it, we counted the steps so many times. When you are going in you don’t know what you are facing but when you are coming out, you skip out the door.
Saoírse will be attending CHI at Crumlin until she reaches adulthood, she will be under the care of the oncology team. She attends every 4 months for check-ups, scans and reviews. She is ok about going. She also attends Cappagh Hospital, for rehab for her prosthesis and is doing really well.” Roseanna, Saoírse’s Mum