Thursday 27th May 2021. A day forever etched in our lives. Following some weeks, of at the time – unexplained vomiting, tiredness, blurry vision and a girl who lost her sparkle, the A&E team at Drogheda Hospital discovered “a mass on our daughters brain”…..  “an ambulance will take you to Neurosurgery in Temple Street Children’s Hospital” they said and therein the rollercoaster began….. On the 1st June Dr Darach Crimmins and his team of neurosurgeons successfully removed 100% of her tumour, we hoped and prayed that would be end of the nightmare, however once removed and tested it was confirmed to be malignant. Maya Jean our 8-year-old, beautiful, fun loving, superstar was diagnosed with a Medulloblastoma – something we had never heard off before that is one of the most common types of cancerous brain tumours in children. Thankfully the tumour was localised and there is no evidence of other cancer cells in her body. Surgery was the first step and now a road of radiotherapy and chemotherapy lies ahead to treat and please God ensure a return to full health for Maya Jean. As Maya Jean recovered from her neurosurgery, the fantastic consultants @Temple St & Crumlin decided that the next step in Maya Jeans treatment and to give her the best possible chance would be Proton Beam radio therapy … Essen ……in Germany!! Our family of 5 arrived here last week and Maya Jeans 6-week proton beam therapy starts tomorrow Tuesday 13th July.

As we try to navigate this parallel universe, we find ourselves in, I would like to thank some incredible people we have met on our journey so far. Dr Darren King, the paediatric doctor in Drogheda A&E that day, who’s intuition, easy and reassuring way I will never forget and be forever grateful for. Dr Darach Crimmins – we will always struggle to find words to describe the depth of gratitude we feel about the man who saved Maya Jean’s life. The epitome of “not all super hero’s wear capes”. A man of extraordinary knowledge, ability, honesty and courage. To the team on St Gabriel’s Neurosurgeon Ward at Temple Street, to each and everyone of them for everything they did for Maya Jean, myself & David during Maya Jeans 4 week stay. Day in and day out they work selflessly and lovingly for kids and their families, here we felt safe, shielded and positive about it all. And to John Glynn from The Gavin Glynn foundation. With just a few days’ notice, it was confirmed we were Essen bound. Barely being able to function day to day never mind getting organised to move to Germany for 2 months, John stepped in and took all the thinking and stress away. He booked flights, organised transfers, sorted out living expenses, arranged an apartment for the 5 of us to stay in, in Essen that is all importantly just minutes from the hospital.

Absolutely nothing is a problem for John from sorting out Wi-Fi – to a wet suit for Maya Jean that she can swim in and protect her Hickman line, to putting us in touch with the lovely Lorna in Fitzpatricks and her staff in particular Jade Cheng (our new neighbour!) who have really helped us settle in quickly here, everything from showing us how to get around Essen University Hospital, navigating the public transport system,  to sourcing an additional buggy to help us get around!! Again there are no words to describe the invaluable work of John and the Gavin Glynn foundation, supporting families like ours affected by childhood cancer and whose lives have been turned upside down. An absolute gentleman whose easy, friendly, helpful nothing is a problem manner is an amazing, vital support right now. And to the staff @WPE who we just met in the last few days and have been so helpful, friendly and caring as Maya Jean begins her 6-week treatment tomorrow.

To all our family and friends and to everyone who has helped in whatever way on our journey so far, not a road we ever thought we would be on, but very grateful to have met so many incredible people so far. A quote I received from a friend this morning that really sums it all up right now “You have no idea what you can “survive” until you have no choice but to “survive” it” …Jewel


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