THE PARENTS of a four-year-old boy are appealing for help to send their son to America after he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer
Mannix Kane from Kildalkey, Co Meath, was diagnosed with stage four clear cell sarcoma two weeks before Christmas.
"I took Mannix to the local GP for what I believed would be a prescription for an antibiotic," recalled Mannix's mother, Noleen.
"Instead, an ambulance was called and my little boy visited three different hospitals, had countless scans and and MRIs followed by two biopsies.
"Six days later we were given the devastating news that our little boy has clear cell sarcoma, stage four," she said.
This cancer is so rare that only 20 new cases are discovered in America each year, meaning that research into the cancer is not that extensive, resulting in a survival rate of just 40pc.
Mannix's parents, Noleen and Bryan, are fundraising to send Mannix to America for clinical trials should the chemotherapy prove unsuccessful, because the treatment is not available or funded here.
Mannix has two tumours: one on his kidney and the second behind his right eye.
His treatment plan consists of 30 weeks of aggressive combination chemotherapy at Crumlin Hospital, surgery to remove his kidney and one of the tumours, and radiation treatment to tackle the second tumour.
He must also receive daily injections to help improve his platelet count to avoid infection after the chemo.
Noleen, who admits to being "absolutely exhausted", told the Herald how her life has been turned upside down.
"We're just stunned by it all, this whole thing has just erupted over the past six weeks," she said.
"Mannix is full of beans, full of life. I cooked all his food, I never drank or smoked during the pregnancy, he was walking before he was one and passed all his milestones when he had to.
"You try to do all the right things but this just shows that you never know what's going to happen."
Noleen said she never thought that something like this could ever happen to her and described how unprepared she was for bad news when she brought Mannix to what she thought would be a routine GP visit.
"The child had never been sick. The day I brought him to the GP I had a shopping list ready so I could prepare for the week once we were done," she said.
"I went out my front door that afternoon, life was good and then it was like there was a car crash and things will never be the same again."
Noleen has decided to start fundraising for America, so should the unthinkable happen they will be prepared for it.
"I can't start fundraising in six months on the off-chance; I don't know what the future holds," she added.
"It's quite a long shot but I can't rest until I know that I've given my son every chance".
The brave mum told the Herald that she is living a day at a time to cope with what is happening.
"My mantra is live for today -- I can't predict the future," she said.
"I'm a firm believer in living in the present and not letting life pass you by. I've learned to appreciate the little things in life since I became a mother.
"I have to stay strong, Mannix doesn't understand what's going on, so I can't fall to pieces in front of him.
"I've had some really bad days but I have some really good friends and a wonderful family," Noleen added.
Friends of the family have already started their fundraising efforts and there are a number of events planned. An online donation can be made by visiting the appeal website www.mannixkaneappeal.org.
A Facebook page called Please Help For Mannix has also been set up.