BY SIOBHAN CRONIN
A LITTLE boy in Rathbarry near Clonakilty got a lovely surprise last week when a charity, linked to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, erected a beautiful mural on his bedroom wall.
Sam O’Donovan, (2), is a patient at the Dublin hospital, where he is receiving treatment for a form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ‘ALL’.
Diagnosed last May, his mum Susan said Sam has had a tough few months, and a particularly difficult December, with trips to Dublin and the Mercy Hospital in Cork.
But last Thursday, his face beamed when Chris and Conor from Vinyl Murals in Meath, arrived at his door, with a very special gift for him.
Just over an hour later, Sam was brought into the bedroom which he shares with his brother Rory (4), and a stunning mural of tractors in a field, with the two boys driving them, was unveiled.
‘It was amazing,’ said his mum Susan. ‘It really brightened up a dull January day. They’ve been showing it off to their friends and family, in fact as many people as possible.’
Susan said the charity – Aobheann’s Pink Tie – rang her before Christmas, to say a little girl from Ballycotton called Teagan had put Sam’s name forward for the ‘pic nomination’ to get a mural of his choice.
‘She is a beautiful little girl who we met in Crumlin,’ explained Susan, ‘and they asked me what kind of picture would the boys like. Some kids get cars, or the Minions or Frozen scenes, but our boys wanted tractors.’
Susan says, as their dad Seamus is a farmer, the two brothers adore tractors and everything about them, so they were so excited to see the mural when it was hung on their bedroom wall last week.
The charity was set up by Aoibheann Norman’s father Jimmy, after his daughter lost her battle with cancer.
He said he had spent so much time in St John’s Ward in Crumlin, that he didn’t want to just walk away and never go back.
He set up Aoibheann’s Pink Tie charity, as he had asked all the men to wear a pink tie – her favourite colour – on the day of her funeral, and the women all wore pink.
Today, the charity helps out kids who are going through treatment in Crumlin, and Susan says their support has been amazing.
‘The night Sam was diagnosed we were sent straight to Crumlin from Cork, and we really didn’t know what we were doing. When we got there, the charity had little emergency bags ready, with their logo on them, with all the kinds of things you would need, but wouldn’t have had time to get in a panic. There was a towel, and a t-shirt, shampoo, and other practical things.’ She says that Christy and Conor, who had driven from Meath last week, and went on to another little boy in Thurles that night, made instant friends with both Sam and his brother Rory.
‘It’s a difficult time for Rory too because we are away a lot and he gets pushed around from one family member to another when we are in the hospital. So it’s lovely that he was included in this too.’
Sam has a lot more treatment to go through over the next year, including more lumbar punctures and chemo, involving many visits to both Crumlin and the Mercy Hospital.
But they have been told that most of his treatment should be completed by October 2017. As well as the magnificent staff in St John’s Ward, Susan is also very grateful to the staff in Cork. ‘We are extremely lucky to be able to attend the Leukemia Unit in the Mercy for a lot of his chemo as Cork is the only other place, after Crumlin, that this can happen,’ says Sam’s mum, who is a teacher at Mount St Michael’s secondary school in Rosscarbery.
She has taken leave since Sam’s diagnosis. ‘I feel more like a nurse than a teacher these days,’ she says.
‘The Mercy has two CNS nurses, Peg and Olga, who call to us if we need them to check his blood counts, etc, as he often needs transfusions. The nursing staff and Clodagh Ryan – Sam’s consultant in the Mercy – are second to none. We have a lot to be grateful for, and we have good family and friends.
‘Our new oncology ‘family’ in Aoibheann’s Pink Tie all across Ireland pull us through the tough days,’ she says.
‘We have “pic nominated” a girl in East Cork called Caroline, so it was lovely to be able to ring her mum last week and say, “you are next to get a wall”.’
To donate €2 to the charity, simply text AOIBHEANN to 50300. See also Vinyl Murals on Facebook.