Brave Megan's parents hope toddler can beat infection
THE parents of a girl undergoing life-saving cancer treatment in the US remain hopeful she will fight off an infection she contracted and recover sufficiently to start playschool in her native Cork later this year.
Brave Megan Malone (3) is now fighting off a bacterial blood infection, which wrecked her plans to spend the entire Christmas holidays at her parent's temporary home in New York.
Instead, Megan had to be rushed back to the Presbyterian Children's Hospital in New York where she is now undergoing an intensive two-week course of high-dose antibiotic treatment.
Megan had flown over to the US in early December to receive life-saving treatment at the hospital.
Megan -- from Ballyvourney, Co Cork -- was diagnosed last October with an extremely rare cancerous tumour in her brain.
She had only a 20pc survival chance in Ireland -- but the revolutionary treatment offered by the New York hospital increased her chances to 50pc.
Her care in the US, which could cost €300,000, was facilitated when an anonymous good Samaritan came forward and promised to cover the toddler's entire medical bill.
Megan underwent intensive chemotherapy in New York, and her response to it astonished both doctors and her parents, John and Sheila.
Her tumour shrunk by 75pc and Megan responded so well to treatment it was hoped she could spend Christmas and New Year at the family's temporary home in Yonkers, New York.
She also managed to walk unaided for the first time in three months.
However, while her Christmas plans were hit by the infection, her family remains confident it will prove only a temporary setback.
"Sheila and I are taking turns looking after Megan while she is in the hospital, every two to three days," John Malone told the Irish Independent.
"It looks like Megan may remain in hospital until the middle of January now. She has a few more days of antibiotics and she is then scheduled to start the next cycle of 'Head Start' chemotherapy on Friday. It is likely that both will now overlap," he added.
Mr Malone said the family remained very hopeful over how well Megan has responded to treatment.
"According to our neuro-oncologist, Dr Garvan, Megan is responding very well to treatment. Dr Garvan has told me that the fact Megan started walking last week for the first time indicates that the cancer has receded even more since the last MRI (scan)," he said.
Megan's sister Chloe (7) and brother Dylan (5) started school today, a month after the Malone family first arrived in New York.
"The school is only about 100 yards from our front door which is very handy for us," Mr Malone said.
"Our wish for 2011 is that Megan will be able to start playschool in Kilnamartyra (near Ballyvourney) in September -- free from disease."