Saturday 24 August 2019

'They said there was no good news' - family shocked as daughter (3) diagnosed with 'rare and aggressive' brain tumour

A GoFundMe campaign for the family has raised over €20,000 in 24 hours

Evie Kearney

A young Dublin family have said they are "taking it day by day" after their toddler was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour when they brought her to the doctor with what they thought was a viral infection.

Zoe O'Mahoney (3), from Swords, was diagnosed suddenly on July 15 with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT) - a rare form of cancerous tumour that is found in just 58 people worldwide each year.

Since her "extremely sudden and devastating" diagnosis just over three weeks ago, the toddler will soon have undergone five surgeries to remove fluid around the brain, parts of the tumour itself, and to prepare her for the next stages of treatment which include radiation therapy in Germany.

Zoe's mother, Carmel O'Mahoney, told Independent.ie that her daughter had been complaining of tiredness and a pain in her stomach when they initially brought her to the GP last month.

"We go to the GP, she’s checked out and then on Friday the 12th of July she went for a nap for four hours and I woke her up and she vomited so we brought her to D-Doc who sent her to Temple Street," she said.

Zoe was then diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and given antibiotics before being sent home.

"On Monday she still wasn't responding - she was very sleepy and she didn't want to drink, so we brought her back to A&E.

"We thought we were just going to get a new antibiotic and be sent home," her mother explained.

However, while in A&E Zoe suffered two seizures and a CT scan revealed the mass on her brain.

"Then they brought us in to a room and said there was no good news, that her brain was filled with fluid and there was a mass on her brain which they were sure was a tumour," Ms O'Mahoney said.

"She never complained of a headache or anything. She just got too sleepy and we thought it was a normal three year old's virus."

Since her diagnosis, Ms O'Mahoney, along with her husband, Alan, and their eight month old daughter Holly, have been preparing for an expected relocation to Germany where Zoe will undergo proton radiation treatment to prevent the tumour from growing again.

Ms O'Mahoney, a primary school teacher, will have to apply for carer's leave while her husband intends to take unpaid time off work.

"One of us will generally be home with Holly at night and one of us will be in hospital with Zoe. I’m still feeding Holly so I have to go home," she explained.

"I’m pumping milk in the hospital and then going home to feed her and coming back."

Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page "to give Zoe’s family financial freedom to focus on the things that really matter while Zoe is undergoing treatment."

The campaign, referred to as Zoe's Magic Wand, has managed to raise over €20,000 of it's €100,000 goal in just 24 hours.

"I just couldn't believe it. We are so grateful for everything whether it’s the people donating two euro or the people donating hundreds of euro, it's all the same," Ms O'Mahoney said. 

She said that the treatment costs are being covered by the HSE and that the Gavin Glynn Foundation - who helps children seek treatment abroad - have been in touch with the family.

"The GoFundMe is not for the treatment costs. It’s to relieve our financial pressures just so we can cover our living expenses and our mortgage and have someone to look after our baby.

"Please God, if Zoe recovers from this, when she gets the all clear, any money that’s left over will be going back in to charity. We’re not in this to make money for ourselves," she added.

Despite being in hospital since her diagnosis on July 15, Zoe's mother said the toddler is in "good form" and that the family are focusing on the "small victories."

"Zoe says she loves the nurses and she likes having her blood pressure taken. That’s three year olds – they just live in the moment."

If you would like to donate to the Zoe's Magic Wand fundraiser you can do so here.

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