The mother of a child cancer patient and amputee who appeared on the Late Late Toy Show has said explaining the diagnosis to her daughter was “heartbreaking”.
At the age of seven, Saoirse Ruane was diagnosed with cancer after she went to A&E with a suspected sprain or broken bone. Doctors were concerned it was more serious than that and a biopsy confirmed her family’s “worst fears”:
“Initially, when she went into hospital we talked about her having a tumour because she didn’t know what that meant,” her mother, Roseanna, recalled to Newstalk Breakfast.
“We were very careful not to mention cancer but within a week we did have to tell her.
“It was heartbreaking and even telling her she had to lose her leg - that conversation I would never wish on anyone.”
Saoirse was diagnosed in December 2019 and started chemotherapy that month. However, it became clear that she would have to have her leg amputated as well.
“She had that on 18th March 2020 - when the country was closing down,” Roseanna continued.
“She recovered from that with time - she did 10 months of intense chemo.
“In November 2020 - just before her appearance on the Toy Show - she got her first prosthetic leg and then we started to get back to life.
“I suppose, not get back to life because it’s very important that people realise you don’t get back to that life that you had. It’s very different and always will be.
“But we started to come through the haze.”
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But that near normality was snatched away in May when Saoirse told her parents that she had a pain in her chest.
The Ruanes drove her to hospital in Galway and doctors carried out a number of tests on her.
“[I was] absolutely floored that evening when the doctor beckoned me outside the cubicle and her words to me were, “Do you want to get your husband to come in?” Roseanna said.
Cancer had returned and this time it was in Saoirse’s lung.
“She was very lucky in a way because that tumour could have been there in her lung for a long time before we’d ever have realised but because the tumour was attached to her lung and her chest wall, it was causing this pain.
“So it was picked up very quickly, I suppose.”
Surgery followed and Saoirse spent time in an ICU ward afterwards. She is currently back in school - although she is not quite ready to play camogie yet.
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“She’s very happy go-lucky, we were very lucky to get to Disney World a couple of weeks ago,” Roseanna added.
“We all had a fantastic holiday. It’s very important that we got her there as we were a year and a half waiting to do that, so we feel that box is ticked and we all had a fantastic time.”
The family are chronicling their experience of surviving and thriving after cancer on their Instagram account @saoirseandmamma where they have nearly 80,000 followers.
Main image: Saoirse and Roseanna Ruane. Picture by: Roseanna Ruane