Sunday 16 December 2018

'It's unbelievable' - Son who became full-time carer for his brother when mum got cancer reveals she is home for Christmas

Reunited: Colin, Ann and Conor Grassick
Reunited: Colin, Ann and Conor Grassick
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A devoted son has said his Christmas wish has come true after his mum was declared able to come home following a gruelling battle with cancer.

Ann Grassick was diagnosed earlier this year with a type of Leukemia, MDS (Myelodysplastic syndromes), after a nurse friend of hers begged her to be examined by doctors.

Her story captured the hearts of the nation when she told of how her younger son Colin (20) has Prader Willi syndrome and needs 24-hours care.

Her older son Conor (24) was forced to give up training to represent Ireland in Taekwondo in the next Olympics to become Colin's full-time carer, as well as looking after his mum and juggling his job as a Special Needs Assistant.

Conor revealed today that his beloved mother is now back in their home in Drumcondra, Dublin following chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant and they are excited to spend Christmas together.

He said: "A big thing was that every day I would wake up and know mam was in hospital but you can't actually help her whereas now I wake up and I know exactly where she is, Colin's with her and he's happy, it's unbelievable.

"We had no help at all, I was looking after Colin so I had to give up trying to qualify for the next Olympics to mind them both.

"I managed to get 98 hours of respite from the HSE, doctors weren't going to let her out if there were no supports for her to come home.

Ann with her sons Conor and Colin
Ann with her sons Conor and Colin

"She came home about three weeks home for good, goes in twice a week for check-ups but St James' Hospital has played an absolute blinder.

"She has no immune system and is very open to getting viruses, she basically has to be wrapped in bubble wrap until she's a bit stronger.

"She's got the bone marrow transplant and while we have to see if it worked, her doctors have said she's absolutely flying it."

Read More: Award for Irish Taekwondo star (24) who quit sport to care for sick mother and brother with special needs

Conor said that Christmas will be extra special for his family this year.

He said: "All we could do was keep believing that we'd get the right support to come home and Colin would be okay.

"The main goal was to get her home for Christmas but I would tell people they have no idea how determined my mam is, I just knew me, her and Colin would be together for Christmas in the house.

"Someone asked me the other day what I want for Christmas, all I wanted was my mam to come home for Christmas and I got that.

"To have us all back today is unbelievable."

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

Conor also said that his family will be forever grateful for the financial support they received throughout their ordeal.

He said: "It's phenomenal that a random German person has more or less saved my mam's life and we don't even know him and we can't thank him.

"He's given up his time to give my mam a chance, it makes me so happy.

"A couple of months ago our whole lives changed overnight but the support we received has been unbelievable.

"We wouldn't have been able to get through this if it wasn't for everyone who helped us, we'll never be able to pay everyone back.

"It's been a tough few months and I've sacrificed a lot but to get mam home is unbelievable."

He also said how proud he is of how Colin adapted to their changing situation.

Conor said: "It's hard to take on board what happened but Colin has autism and he just changed, adapted and got on with things and kept going.

"I was looking up to him and thinking how well he's doing, it really kept me going."

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