six month old Karagh Cahill from Station Court, Portarlington has defied hugh odds by recovering completely from a deadly cancer, just three months into her treatment.
On March 2 her anxious parents Sarah McAuley (22) and Keith Cahill (23) were waiting for a phone call to hear whether Karagh’s Neuroblastoma tumour had shrunk far enough away from her spine to make operating possible, but were stunned to be told by her doctor that it had completely disappeared.
“We couldn’t believe it. We thought we would find out a date for the operation. We still can’t get over it,” said her mother Sarah.
Last November the young couple had to come to terms with the devastating news that their 12-week old baby had a stage 3 Neuroblastoma on her kidney, with vines from it growing around her spine, compressing it. Neuroblastoma is a particularly fast growing cancer that secretes its own hormones, with a 30 per cent chance of survival depending on how soon it is treated.
“You can’t prepare for that news, it was like being hit by a bus,” Sarah recalled. The couple quickly went into survival mode, focussing on getting Karagh through four sessions of chemotherapy, and a myriad of tests, scans and a line insertion at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.
“I will never forget those days for the rest of my life. Every time I think of them my heart sinks. People say to me how did you do it, and I don’t have an answer to give. We didn’t have a choice but to do it. We wanted Karagh better and this was the only way possible,” Sarah says.
Finding how little research and support there was regarding Neuroblastoma online, they began to raise money and awareness through facebook, a website, and touchingly personal blogs.
They are grateful for the generosity and support they were given by their families and the community.
“Everyone’s been so fantastic. We couldn’t believe how generous they were, but the emotional support means the most, just being able to talk about it,” she said.
Karagh is now classed as NED, meaning no evidence of disease. It will be two years before she can be declared in remission, and another three after that before she gets the all clear.
“I can’t help but notice every little thing, and worry, but she will get scanned and tested every three months. They say if she did relapse, nothing much would happen in that space of time,” her mother said.
Karagh still has to have her central line (freddy) removed, under full anasthetic, but otherwise she is as healthy as any six month old, just about to break her first tooth, and enjoying homemade dinners, particularly mashed spuds. After spending most of her short life under a plastic buggy cover for fear of infection, she has already enjoyed a visit to the zoo and trips to the park.
“It’s just the simple things, like being able to take her into a shop, and everyone getting to see her,” says Sarah, who will be returning to work in the Heritage, Killenard after an extended maternity leave in September.
Thanks to the local committee and the generosity of Portarlington people, the little family will be going with Port parish on a trip to Lourdes in August, while Sarah plans to take part in the Women’s Mini Marathon in June to raise money for the oncology unit in Crumlin.
See sarah-mcauley.blogspot.co.uk or search for The Karagh Mouse Clubhouse on Facebook.