Father tells of brave son Eoghan (15) who joked his way through chemo
The father of a young boy who survived leukaemia has spoken of the "strange experience" of elements of life with the illness.
Eoghan Cox, from Co Wexford, was aged just 15 when he was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma.
He had previously been diagnosed with Evan's syndrome when he was two and had his spleen removed when he was five.
Eoghan's blood was taken as part of a study, involving UCD's Professor Owen Smith, focused on improving survival rates for children and teens affected by cancers of the blood.
Eoghan's father, Andrew Cox, described the treatment his son at Crumlin Children's Hospital as superb.
"When Eoghan was having his chemo it was horrendous. That was tough, really tough. He couldn't swallow," he said.
"He lost weight. He was weak. He couldn't eat and his size plummeted.
"Eoghan just wasn't himself. He looked like a skeleton walking. He was very gaunt. He was skinny and bald - like a stick insect.
"It was very hard to watch as a parent. Bizarrely, he was really upbeat about the whole thing. He was joking about his appearance and just laughing at himself."
Mr Cox said his son even had to attend the sperm bank, as the treatment would affect his ability to have children in later life.
"It was such a strange experience. He was still joking and laughing. I think he was trying to keep us laughing to stop us from falling apart.
"I guess if we fell apart it wouldn't have worked.
"None of us actively tried to be strong. We just had to be, for each other."
The new research by UCD, the National Children's Research Centre (NCRC) and the Children's Medical and Research Centre (CMRC), Crumlin, focuses on understanding how normal gene regulation is affected by acute leukaemia.
The ultimate goal is to develop new and better treatments for every child and adolescent with this blood cancer.