A 15-YEAR-OLD girl who battled cancer for a decade has told of the importance of improving hospital facilities to help more young people like her overcome the disease.
Elysha Ni Chulainn, from Bunratty, Co Clare, was diagnosed with a brain tumour on her optic nerve when she was four.
She lost the sight in her left eye as a result and underwent regular sessions of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
She spent many months throughout her childhood in St John's ward at Our Lady's of Crumlin Hospital in Dublin.
"I was in hospital for most of my childhood," Elysha told the Irish Independent.
"I missed birthday parties, play dates with classmates, all of that.
"I had millions of tests, pretty much every test in the book, and there was a lot of time where I wasn't in school."
She admitted that while she formed many friendships on the ward, her illness affected her life in many ways, including her social skills.
"I found it really hard to settle into secondary school when I started first year. I went to a mixed school of 700 people and it was tough to adapt.
"I wasn't very sociable and it was very hard for me. It didn't work out, so I moved to a small boarding school, which I love."
The aspiring musician is back to full health and is preparing for Junior Certificate mock exams next month.
Elysha wants secondary school pupils to get involved in the 2013 Kellogg's 'Fun Raise 4 Kids' campaign, which helps to raise money for much-needed renovations at Crumlin and provide facilities for parents and patients.
She was joined by singer Ryan Sheridan at the launch of the Children's Medical and Research Foundation campaign at Dublin's Morgan Hotel yesterday.
"I have been a part of a ward walk of Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, at Christmas, for the past three years and to see kids with serious illnesses, often in isolation or hooked up to ventilation units, really hits home," he said.
"It brings you back down to earth."
The pair have challenged teenagers to come up with creative ways to fundraise, with Sheridan planning to perform at the winning school.
Last year, students from 100 schools raised €150,000. Dublin's Mount Temple was overall winner with €20,000.
To support 'Fun Raise 4 Kids', donate by texting Crumlin to 57500. Texts cost €2.50 plus standard network rate.