A FAMILY has spoken of their heartache after their "beautiful little princess" lost her courageous two-year battle against brain cancer.
Megan Malone (5) died despite an heroic battle against a rare and aggressive form of cancer in her brain and spine.
Megan's plight touched hearts across Ireland and the United States – and her death came despite indications last Christmas that she had beaten her condition thanks to pioneering treatment in New York and Boston hospitals.
After her condition suddenly worsened she had to return from her Kilnamartyra home in Cork to the US for treatment.
Megan's father, John, said words cannot describe their devastation. "Our beautiful little princess Megan lost her brave fight for life last night. She battled her terrible disease for over 26 months and it finally got the better of her little body and soul," he said.
"We will never ever forget you Megan. We love you so, so much. No more suffering, No more pain. Poor, poor little darling Megan, may you rest in peace," he sobbed.
Megan's mother, Sheila, was too upset to comment last night.
The little girl's aunt, Aine Watts, said the timing of Megan's death so close to Christmas was particularly cruel.
"We are all devastated by the news. The entire family and extended family are devastated by losing Megan who was so, so brave all through her illness. Megan will be sadly missed and we'll miss her little face, beautiful smile and personality."
In October 2010, Megan was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of brain cancer called a SPNET-Medullablastoma.
The Malones decided to bring Megan to the US for pioneering treatment including blasting her tumours with proton beams.
Megan was allowed back to Ireland in September 2011 amid indications that her cancer was in full remission.
Despite emergency treatment, Megan's condition began to weaken in October and, last Wednesday night, she died.
Megan will repose in Kilnamartyra Church this evening and will be buried in Ballyvourney Cemetery following a 2pm funeral Mass tomorrow.