Brave Molly battling the 'bold boy in her tummy', as she calls her cancer
FOR five-year-old Molly McNally it is simply "the bold boy in my tummy". She is being treated for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that is very bold indeed.
But with remarkable resilience, and the support and love of her family, Molly is battling hard.
Now mum and dad, Emma and Gerry, aided by their local community and the true blue stalwarts of Hill 16 who have adopted Molly as their mascot, are raising funds to ensure the McNallys can explore every option available.
Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer in infancy and Molly is not the only Irish child undergoing the arduous treatments that fight the disease – shrink the "bold boy" in her tummy and eliminate the cancer spots around her body.
In Strandhill in Sligo, there is another child – six-year-old Donal Parsons – who, like Molly, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma last October and is undergoing 18 months of intensive treatment at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin.
The Donal Parsons Trust has been set up in his name to raise money to access any viable treatments to prevent relapse and to pay for treatments if Donal does relapse.
The trust may also assist Donal and his family during his treatment. If Donal doesn't need further treatment all proceeds will go towards fighting Neuroblastoma and to other families facing this terrible situation.
For Emma and Gerry McNally, Molly's cancer diagnosis was a bombshell. Molly had started to feel unwell just as she had started school and was brought to the GP by her parents. She was treated for constipation and had routine blood tests done which showed that she had low iron levels. Emma and Gerry were given tips about her diet, but her illness continued.
One day, as he was walking Molly to school, Gerry noticed that she was walking with a slight limp. She was brought to hospital, where for five days she had countless blood tests, a pelvic ultrasound, X-rays and a battery of other tests.
Finally, one doctor suggested that she have an abdominal ultrasound and once that was done a CT scan was ordered immediately. At 4.20pm on October 22, 2013, Molly was diagnosed with cancer.
"It's devastated us. It's broken our hearts but Molly keeps us strong," Gerry told the Sunday Independent.
Molly's mum Emma said that as well as a significant tumour over a right kidney, which has now been successfully shrunk by chemotherapy, the cancer also attacked her bone marrow and bones as well as her lymph nodes.
The side-effects of the treatment are that Molly has temporarily lost her hair, which upset her very much. In an act of family solidarity her adult sister Stephanie, shaved off her hair just before Christmas so Molly wouldn't feel too bad and to raise funds for the trust set up in Molly's name.
"Neuroblastoma Stage 4 is unfortunately the worst type, the most aggressive and it is hard to treat. But Molly keeps us going and she is receiving the best treatment available from the doctors and staff at Crumlin and at Our Lady's in Drogheda. However, we need to make contingency plans in case she needs to get treatments outside the HSE system," said Emma.
More details about Donal Parsons and fundraising efforts on his behalf are available at www.donalparsonstrust.com