Tuesday 17 October 2017

'There is no help' - mum's heartbreaking Liveline appeal for help for son with special needs as she faces Leukemia treatment

Family talk to Joe Duffy on RTÉ's Liveline about their difficult situation

Ann and Conor Grassick made an appeal on Radio One today
Ann and Conor Grassick made an appeal on Radio One today
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A dedicated mum and older brother have appealed for help caring for a young man who has special needs, following a Leukemia diagnosis which has left their mum facing months of treatment.

Colin Grassick (20) has Prader Willi syndrome (the same condition as Katie Price's son, Harvey), and he requires 24-hour care.

His mum Ann has just been diagnosed with a type of Leukemia,  MDS (Myelodysplastic syndromes), after a nurse friend of hers begged her to be examined by doctors.

This has left older brother Conor (23) as his full-time carer, despite the fact that he is also working full-time as a Special Needs Assistant and also has ADHD.

The Grassick family
The Grassick family

Ann will need to remain in Beaumont hospital to undergo chemotherapy and it also looks likely she will need a bone marrow transplant. 

"My biggest worry is the two boys at home," mum Ann told Joe Duffy on RTÉ's Radio One Liveline.

"My biggest thing is to fight this for my two boys. I don't know what's going to be left for them by the time I finish my treatment.. it's torture," she said.

"I don't know what to do. Somebody will be hurt or Conor will have a breakdown," she added.

Colin is extremely reliant on his mother and due to anxiety levels his behaviour can become more aggressive in her absence.

Some of the elements of the syndrome include a constant feeling of the need to eat and in one harrowing incident the young man caused damage to his hand by trying to eat it.

Ann Grassick and Colin Grassick
Ann Grassick and Colin Grassick
Colin, Ann and Conor Grassick

"This guy needs 24 hour supervision which I have given him for 20 years... all I do is look after him," Ann said.

"There's just been the three of us and now we're falling apart," she said.

"I'll battle this Joe,  I am a fighter," the strong mum said.

"When I start my treatment next week what's going to happen to them?," Ann asked, growing audibly emotional.

Conor told Independent.ie that his mum is "amazing" and that the trio make a "great team".

"But I keep thinking of it like a football team. If one of your players is lost you're going to suffer and we have lost the rock of our team," he said.

"She is more horrified that a 23-year-old with problems like mine is being left as the full time carer."

The young man doesn't want the situation to cause any additional stress for his mum.

"The doctors said people who survive most are the ones who rest well... who look after themselves and eat well. How can she do that when I have to ring at 2am when Colin is trying to run out of the house or his breathing machine is being thrown up and down?

The family said they would benefit from someone who could provide in home care for Colin even a couple of nights a week between 9pm and 6am.

Conor is also due to travel to Korea for the Taekwondo World Championships and is hopeful to go on to compete in the Olympics.

"My mam's insisting I go, she said it will be one of her biggest regrets in life if I don't," he said.

Meanwhile, Colin is struggling to come to terms with his mother's illness and the family are worried about how he will take changes such as changes to her hair which she plans to have cut short this weekend.

"His whole world is upside down and there's no help whatsoever," Conor said.

A spokesman for Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath said that he was been engaging with the family and will continue to do so.

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