Christmas is a time of joy and merriment. We all marvel at the twinkling lights on Grafton Street and the kids get giddy with excitement over the Toy Show. For most families, it is the happiest time of the year, but for Roseanna Ruane and her family, it was the beginning of one of the hardest journeys a parent ever has to face.
We had the honour of talking to Roseanna about her inspirational daughter Saoirse who is currently being treated for cancer and has recently had her leg amputated. The mum-of-two bravely shared her story with us and there’s no doubt that many people will be in awe of her 8-year-old daughter Saoirse’s strength and by her ability to smile, even during the hardest moments.
On the run up to Christmas 2019, Saoirse came home from school with an ache in her ankle, but it wasn’t so unbearable that she was crying, it was just sore. Within about a week or so it had developed into a limp.
Roseanna shared, “It was Friday, November 29th and it was a big night in anyone’s house because that’s the night of the Toy Show. We were preparing for that and I actually dressed her in her uniform to send her to school, but I told myself to bring her to the doctor first rather than waiting another weekend and I’ll drop her to school on my way home.”
“Saoirse was a perfectly happy, energetic, busy, talented girl. She played the harp, attended drama groups and played camogie. Her week was incredibly active. She was a busy little thing,” her mum shared.
However, when Saoirse’s doctor referred her to A&E, the family were told that her bone was broken, “They sent her home that night at around 8 o’clock with crutches and a temporary cast, and there were tears because she didn’t know what crutches were and she didn’t want to be on them for all of Christmas.”
“We sat down that night and watched the Toy Show but it was very hard because we were so shocked at what had happened that day.”
Two days later, they received a phone call from the orthopaedic team. They revealed that they had found abnormalities on the scan that they wanted to rule out so they asked Saoirse and her parents to come in for more tests.
After numerous tests at the hospital, the family were taken into a room, “That’s when infection or tumour was mentioned to us,” Roseanna revealed.
“That was the start of this horrific, horrific journey.”
That moment is every parent’s worst nightmare, “I was just staring at the doctor waiting for him to spit it out. I just knew. Those few minutes felt like half an hour.
“My mouth went dry and my eyes welled up and the tears just started flowing when he said ‘tumour’. Everything was running through our minds, we didn’t know what to ask or what to do. We were shaking.
“We just embraced each other and cried and squeezed each other tight and let it all out. And then we pulled ourselves together because our two little girls were down the corridor waiting for us."
Saoirse was only 7-years-old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant tumour.
“The day before she started her chemo, we sat down with her in Crumlin and told her she had cancer. She knew what cancer was and that was very frightening. There were lots of tears” Saoirse started her chemotherapy in December 2019 and went home to Galway for Christmas, but she ended up getting the flu, which resulted in her being hospitalised for all of the holidays.
“She was in there and we were a split family again for Christmas. It was hard to wake up on Christmas morning and your husband and daughter aren’t there. I’ll never forget it.”
The family continued to face this harrowing journey into 2020. In January, doctors informed them that due to the location of Saoirse’s tumour, she would have to have her leg amputated.
The 8-year-old underwent amputation surgery on March 18 of this year, at the mere age of 8. The journey is undoubtedly intense and overwhelming, but Roseanna and her family keep going, “It’s just constant. Saoirse is on medications, she’s being peg fed, then we have a 16-month-old and my husband is working as well, we’re exhausted, but you just carry on.
“Saoirse would amaze you. She has her good days and she has her bad days. She does not complain. We can all definitely learn from her.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up on behalf of Saoirse. The young girl has a long road ahead of her and needs your help.
Your donations will give Saoírse the opportunity to access the prosthetics she requires in order to return to everyday living and partake in activities that every young child likes to do. Since Saoírse received her diagnosis in December 2019 she lost the ability to walk and her greatest wish is to learn how to walk again.
The family are nearing their target of €160,000 but every penny counts. Click here to donate. You can also check out Saoirse’s Summer Festival, which is being organised by her wonderful parents Roseanna and Ollie. The funds raised from this event will go towards Saoirse's rehabilitation and will also be shared with the organisations that have helped support Saoirse throughout her treatment. For more information on this please visit www.saoirsessummerfest.com.