YVONNE Shannon knew something was wrong when her two-and-a-half year old daughter Ruby threw up, became lethargic and said she felt “wobbly” in her head.
When she didn‘t get better after a GP visit, she was rushed to hospital, where doctors considered it could be meningitis.
Dublin mum Yvonne said: “My little girl Ruby vomited up her bottle of milk one morning. I took her to the GP and we thought it was a viral infection.
“She didn’t get any better after a couple of days so I took her to the Dub Doc at the weekend.
“I thought there was something wrong with her because she just wasn’t herself – even her eyes looked dull. Ruby has big brown eyes and I knew they were off.
“The doctor examined her and sent us to Crumlin Hospital with suspected meningitis.
“They did a urine test and found she didn’t have meningitis.
“Ruby had started complaining of a pain in her head at this point, but that can be part of having a virus.
“We went home and after three days of staying in the house I picked her up off the couch and she started having a seizure.
“Her whole body was shaking. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she was unresponsive. I panicked so much. It was terrifying. We called an ambulance and rushed into Crumlin.”
VALENTINE’S DAY SURGERY
While Ruby recovered, she was still complaining of a pain in her head.
Yvonne said that was “when they told me the worst news I have ever heard: my little girl had a brain tumour.”
She added: “All your power as a Mammy is gone.. Because as a Mammy I can’t kiss it and make it go away.”
On Valentine’s’ Day, she went to Temple Street to get the grade four Penile Blastoma Tumour removed.
Surgery took over eight hours but the surgeons were able to remove the whole tumour, giving Yvonne “the greatest Valentine’s gift anyone could ever get.”
But it meant that Ruby had to re-learn all the milestones she had already passed, from learning to walk, stand and sit again.
And her journey was not over with the cancer, as she had to undergo chemo in Crumlin to ensure it didn’t come back.
“Ruby had her Hickman line put in her chest and we did about seven months of chemo. Even though the tumour had been entirely removed and Ruby was cancer free, because it was a grade four tumour she needed to follow through with the plan to complete her chemotherapy course.
“She used to have five days of chemo and then a break. With her immune system so low we really didn’t get to spend much time at home.
“I would bring her home and we were lucky if we got to spend five days there.
“The minute it seemed like she was getting sick we had to go back to the hospital before it escalated.
“We lived in Crumlin for seven months. Ruby is the toughest little girl and I’m so proud of her.”
Every scan for Ruby, from Pimlico in Dublin, has since been clear and she is now happy at home.
Yvonne now wants to thank the staff at CMRF Crumlin and the people who raise funds for the foundation.
“It’s a very hard and lonely place to be when you’re looking at your sick child.
“It’s soul-destroying. Every time a doctor took her away all I wanted was to take her back because I couldn’t breathe without her.
“When people go out and do something big or small to support the hospital and its research, it makes a huge difference for people like me and Ruby.
“If I could say one thing to the incredible fundraisers it would simply be ‘thank you’. I don’t think you can say thank you enough.
“It means everything to feel that support throughout such a difficult experience.”
She added: “The best thing I ever heard in my life was that the brain tumour was gone and Ruby was in the clear. People worry about silly things.
“We all do it. It’s only when you’re faced with a situation like this that you forget everything else.
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“The only thing that matters in the world is making sure your child gets well. I hope she lives a long and healthy life.
“I don’t care what she wants to be when she grows up.
“I just want her to be healthy and happy. That’s all that matters. At the moment she’s four-years-old and thinking of being an astronaut when she’s older, so we’ll see how that goes!”
- To donate to CMRF Crumlin, visit cmrf.org