Childhood cancer – ‘Throughout his treatment Tadhg was just incredible; he always had a smile’

A lump on his neck was the first tell-tale sign for Genevieve O’Maille that all was not right with her son Tadhg.

The nine-year old was out paddling in the pool with his twin brother Fergus on a Saturday afternoon last August when she made the troubling discovery. By Monday morning it was still there, so Genevieve took him to their GP who was being precautious and sent them into the Mercy Hospital in Cork.

“I had my  summer clothes on going off to the GP and he had his shorts and flip-flops on because we were literally just going for a checkup and then going home, but next thing we were in the hospital,” Genevieve remembers of that worrying time.

“I remember being taken into the family room on my own because my husband wasn’t there yet, and being told that the lump they had found on his neck was malignant and they had found a suspicious tumour on his chest as well, and that it had very possibly gone into his spleen.

“The following day we were sent up to Crumlin. My husband drove us up that day.  Once he was admitted we had to wait until the day after for him to undergo surgery where they performed a lumbar puncture a biopsy and they placed his hickman line in. It was then we were told he had stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma. It completely blew us out of the water.

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It was a total whirlwind and I couldn’t believe how fast it all happened.

“We were in Dublin for almost a week. We were allowed have Tadhg home for the weekend, but drove back to Dublin at the beginning of the next week for him to start his first round of chemo.

“On the very day that Tadhg began his chemo his twin brother Fergus started in a new school that he should have been starting in too, while we were up in Dublin. But he was just incredible; he always had a smile, even when his hair fell out.”

Thankfully treatment went well for Tadhg, who entered remission last Christmas and is now back living his normal life, including going to school and GAA training.

Genevieve is now a fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society having taken part in its inaugural Make a Splash A Day in May campaign. She says she was inspired by the ‘Ice Man’ Wim Hof whose techniques helped her cope while going through Tadhg’s diagnosis and treatment.

Indeed, it proved an ideal opportunity for Genevieve who also wanted to give back for some of the assistance the family had received through the Society’s Children’s Fund.

“You don’t want to be worrying about financial issues at a time like that, and it takes that worry off your shoulders,” she says.

“We just couldn’t have managed without all the help we got from the different charities, and it’s all there for you. You don’t realise how much you’ll rely on such support until you’re in it yourself. Every letter that came from the Irish Cancer Society had a lovely line about how if you need support or someone to talk to that there is someone on the end of the phone, and just that is massive.”

Children's Fund

Click the link below to find out more about financial support available from the Irish Cancer Society

Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.

Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm

Roz, Cancer Nurseline

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