Loving mother: Brenda cares for son while battling own illness
A mother from Cork who cares for her son who has a rare genetic condition has been named 2018's Carer of the Year.
Brenda O'Connell, from Charleville, was among 31 carers who were honoured for their selfless devotion to their loved ones as part of the CarePlus Carer Awards in Dublin yesterday.
Brenda cares for her young son Fionn (4) who has NACC1, a rare genetic mutational condition.
Fionn is the only known person in Europe with this diagnosis. Having been extremely ill at three-months-old, Fionn spent the first two years of his life in and out of hospital.
He stopped feeding and would cry for 20 hours a day in excruciating pain. He had to have a nasal gastro tube fitted.
But Brenda and her husband Trevor refuse to give up hope for a day when Fionn won't suffer.
The mum of one also has a highly debilitating illness called systemic lupus and has undergone chemotherapy treatment to alleviate the pain. She also cares for her mother, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Despite all of this, Brenda managed to fundraise locally to adapt their home in order to make it suitable for providing 24/7 care.
"Everyone in Ireland who is a carer has their hearts broken night and day," she said.
"All we do is fight and advocate for the people we're caring for.
"There are so many services that are not available and we need to fight continuously everyday of the week."