independent

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Brave Bray mum Ciara fighting rare form of cancer

Bray woman Ciara Donnelly with her sons,Dean (14) and Bobby (6)
Bray woman Ciara Donnelly with her sons,Dean (14) and Bobby (6)

Mary Fogarty

Bray native Ciara Donnelly is facing the battle of her life as she undergoes chemotherapy for a rare form of cancer.

Ciara (34), a native of Ardmore Park, now lives in Cabinteely with her two sons.

A qualified make-up artist, the Bray woman is putting her best foot forward, supplementing doctors' orders with holistic treatments and doing her make-up even on her worst days.

Ciara's condition is called Urachal Adenocarcinoma. The Urachus makes up your umbilical cord as a baby and stems from behind the belly button down to the bladder.

For most people, this dissipates into nothing and causes no concern, however for a very rare few - one in a million people - it develops into a rare and aggressive cancer.

Only two cases have been diagnosed in Ireland to date and there have only been 400 cases diagnosed in the US in the last 25 years.

Aged in her early 30s, Ciara has had a full hysterectomy as a medical team fights to treat her.

'We always knew that Ciara was one in a million but never in our wildest dreams did we think she would be fighting this battle,' her sister Natalie wrote on a gofundme page.

Using funds donated, Ciara hopes to continue the alternative therapies that she has invested in so far. Some funds will also contribute to daily living expenses as she is unable to work at the moment.

Through her blog, she will continue to provide updates on her journey so far and to document and outline how and where any donated funds are spent.

'Ciara is someone who leaves an impression on those she meets. She loves with all of her heart and she is loved dearly in return. She is so beautiful on the inside and on the outside,' wrote Natalie.

Ciara is the youngest of four, and her parents, two sisters and brother have all being rallying around her since her diagnosis in February.

Ciara had suffered bladder infections on and off for months and had been on antibiotic after antibiotic without getting better.

She went into A&E with severe back pain and a very swollen stomach. They found two massive growths on her ovaries, one 20cm and the other 10cm.

Initially, oncologists though that this was ovarian cancer, but as they investigated, it wasn't presenting as a typical cancer and her blood work wasn't showing as it should.

The cancer had spread to the bladder and the spine. Ciara had surgery, and began radiation and chemotherapy.

She's been very sick from the chemo but is keeping as spirited as she can and move forward. Her parents have moved in to help and her sons, aged six and 14, are 'keeping her going and keeping her strong,' Ciara's cousin Jade told the Bray People.

The treatment is going as planned. Nothing is getting any bigger, but as it stems from the cells, it can't, at this time, truly be cured.

At the moment, Ciara is focusing on a more holistic lifestyle, opting for plant-based nutrition. She is finding these therapies and treatments helpful, giving her energy and helping her fight infection.

It has been very difficult on her family members. 'Everyone is being strong for her, and she's been strong for us,' said Jade. 'It's been a kick in the stomach, and came out of nowhere.'

Jade said that while Ciara is separated, her husband, the boys' dad has been extremely supportive also.

'She is the life and soul of every party,' said Jade. 'She's gas and everybody knows her. It's hard to deal with her future being so uncertain.' Ciara has been bravely documenting her experience, diagnosis and treatment plan in her blog #nofilter, which can be read at no-filter.blog. To contribute, find 'Ciara's Keeping up with Cancer Fund' on gofundme.ie.

Bray People

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