Young cancer survivors honoured in Limerick as hospital diary raises funds

 

AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl who twice underwent brain surgery has written a book about her experiences.

Cancer survivor Becky McCauley was honoured for her bravery last night with a civic reception by Limerick County Council.

The fourth-class student from Raheen in Limerick was diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2011, and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Last May a second tumour required further surgery.

During her time in Beaumont, St Luke’s and Crumlin children’s hospitals in Dublin, she kept a diary, which has now been published. More than 200 copies have already been sold and €1,000 raised for the children’s oncology fund at the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

“My book is called The little Girl with the Big Headache, and it’s about the time I spent in the three hospitals in Dublin,” explained Becky.

The bubbly student described writing the book as being “more fun” than schoolwork, and said she was already planning her next book.

Her proud parents, Michael and Mary, were among those at yesterday’s ceremony.

They described the last year as “very tough” but said they were keeping positive about their daughter’s illness.

“It has been tough but we have had a wonderful year. Since she came out of hospital she has taken it all in her stride,” said Mary.

Brónagh O’Neill (16) who had a brain tumour removed 10 days before she sat her Junior Cert was also honoured at the reception, the highest accolade the local authority can bestow.

The teenager, who attends Laurel Hill Secondary School in Limerick , said that keeping a positive mindset was key to surviving her illness.

“Every step of the way you have to be positive because there are some days when you wake up and you think, ‘God I really can’t do this.’

“Definitely a positive mindset has to be a main factor – and surrounding yourself with positive people like your family and friends really helps a lot,” she said.

Brónagh, who continues to get regular MRI scans, is hoping to pursue a career in science.

Speaking at Limerick County Hall in Dooradoyle, Councillor Mary Harty, cathaoirleach of the council, said: “In recognising Becky and Brónagh’s achievements and bravery in overcoming their respective illnesses, Limerick County Council is acknowledging other young people throughout Limerick who have survived or are continuing to be treated for serious illnesses.

Council staff also made a €2,000 donation towards cancer research.