My name is Poppy, I am 9 years old and I’m from Sligo. I like to play with my friends, draw, watch TV and I love animals. My life was good and lots of fun until I was diagnosed with leukemia 9 months ago. This is a type of blood cancer which is not easy to live with. The treatment is for two and a half years and is very harsh. One medicine made my hair all fall out and I was sad and I cried, I now have short hair and I love it, although everyone thinks I’m a boy. The medicine also made me so weak that I ended up in a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk and I was so bad at one stage that my mum had to turn me over in bed because I didn’t have the strength to even move. I have started to walk again for the first time in 8 months and its awesome. I have spent a lot of time in hospital because I have to get bloods done every week. I also have had to go to theatre over 10 times so far and have had over 10 transfusions as my blood cells can get quite low with the chemo. Theatre is so scary for me because I have to go to sleep and I can’t wake up. I always cry when I am going to sleep. Me & my mum have to travel to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin a lot, its a nice hospital, we used to have to drive up every week from Sligo for my treatment, but now its just every month. I have so much medicine to take its unbelievable. I also have a tube called a freddie which goes into the big vein in my heart and comes out my chest. I really don’t like my freddie as I’m afraid it’ll get pulled out and I’ll have to go to theatre again. I also can’t swim for the two and a half years that my Freddie is in, this makes me very sad as I love swimming. The last 9 months have been so hard for me and my mum, but I know when I get better I will be a lot stronger than I was before this stupid cancer.
When Poppy was diagnosed with Leukemia, my world literally gave way under my feet, as my first thought was that I could actually lose my beautiful daughter. Her treatment began straight away, but unlike other illnesses where the patient starts to improve once treatment begins, Poppy got worse and worse over the next 6 months. Her hair began to fall out within 3 weeks and within a month she was unable to walk and she became so weak she was totally bedridden. At her worst point she was so bad she actually couldn’t move and I hate to say it, but during this darkest time I actually thought my daughter was dying. She has been in a wheelchair since then and because of that she has practically had to relearn to walk again. We have spent the last 9 months having to regularly travel from Sligo to Crumlin for her treatment, and whilst thankfully we now just need to do it about once a month, the first few months involved having to travel up weekly. I had to give up my job the day after Poppy was diagnosed and this added an enormous financial worry about how I would cope with the cost of the illness on top of everyday life during the long period of treatment. I have to say the support we have received has been amazing, and I sometimes wonder how I would have coped without it. I was put in touch with Hand in Hand through the social worker in Crumlin hospital and they have become one of my valued supports. Poppy’s treatment leaves her immune system compromised and this can make it difficult to do normal everyday things that we would have taken for granted before she was sick. Hand in Hand pays for a carer to come to our house 2 to 3 times a week to sit with Poppy. I have always said that this service alone has kept my head above water as it gives me a chance to get out and do the shopping or anything else which needs to be done. Sometimes just a break, like going for a walk is all that I need. They also help me with laundry which is also a great help in lightening the overall workload. Without doubt dealing with Leukemia has been the most difficult thing both of us have ever been through but it has also definitely made us stronger. Although we still have a long road ahead of us with almost 2 years of treatment to go, life is thankfully slowly returning to normal for us. We both now call Hand in Hand “our charity” and without doubt they have two lifelong dedicated supporters in us.
Our daughter Sophie was diagnosed with Bi-Lateral Wilms Tumour (Cancer in both her kidneys) in when she was 16 months old. She underwent 12 months of chemotherapy and 6 sessions of radiotherapy. She had to have both her kidneys removed and started dialysis 3 days a week in Temple Street Children’s Hospital. We travelled from Sligo to Dublin 3 days a week for dialysis.
Normal life ceased to exist for us, our entire life revolved around the trips to Dublin for dialysis and in that first year for chemotherapy. We had to put our life on hold and yet try to keep life normal for our oldest child Darragh who was 4 at the time. There was always the constant worry about Sophie and how her treatment & dialysis was going, the endless travelling to Dublin, worrying how Darragh was coping with it all particularly because we had to be away from home so often. We could never plan ahead anything because you never knew when Sophie would get sick or spike a temperature and we would have to go to Temple Street with her, while Darragh was minded by family members. Thomas took leave from his job for 2 years to travel to Dublin with Sophie.
Hand in Hand were fantastic to us. They provided a lady to come in two afternoons a week to mind Sophie while Thomas got a break which was invaluable & we always knew Sophie was well looked after and enjoyed her time with her Carer. They also provided house cleans and Jennifer was always at the end of the phone if we needed anything.
When Sophie had been free of Cancer for 2 years, she was eligible to go onto a transplant list. We both agreed to be tested and we were informed Thomas was a match. Sophie received her kidney transplant and both are doing brilliant. It’s a new lease of life for her.