Janet Forristal’s son Robbie was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 8 months old. Janet is sharing her family’s experience to support our plans to build a new therapeutic short break centre in Mayo for families across Ireland affected by childhood cancer :
Robbie was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma in January 2013. This is his story as told by his mum, Janet.
Life changed forever
“From the moment we heard that our little baby had cancer, life as we knew had changed forever. What was once a very normal, happy life with hopes for the future had turned into a world of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. How could our little baby have cancer?
However, we made a promise to Robbie, then, that no matter what, we would fight for him and stay by his side every step of the way. We promised Robbie that cancer was not going to stop us from having the happy life that we dreamed of for our family.
In April 2013 Robbie was also diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 1. A genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow anywhere in the body. It was a further blow as we knew nothing about this disease and how it was going to affect him and his treatment plan. His plan went ahead regardless and after 5 months of chemotherapy in Crumlin the doctors decided that he would need further treatment abroad. In July 2013 Robbie required surgery and brachytherapy radiation which could only be carried out in France where we spent four weeks.
It was at this time that I saw my little baby fight the toughest fight. Robbie has endured multiple painful procedures. He has fought bravely and he continues to persevere every day. He is the happiest and funniest little boy. He is our hero and he inspires us to keep going. He loves life and we are so lucky to have him with us.”
A much needed break
“We were so fortunate to have visited Cancer Fund for Children’s Daisy Lodge. Our therapeutic short break helped us to heal as a family. I remember the first time that we arrived at Daisy Lodge, our spirits were broken, and we were shattered and exhausted. For the first time in 3 years I could breathe. It was like the energy from the ground reached out and gave us a big family hug and said that everything was going to be ok. I cried again, but this time they were happy tears.
The children’s eyes lit up when they saw their room. They looked so happy. It was so nice to see Robbie and Ryan playing together because for so long I and Keith would go to the hospitals with Robbie and we would leave Ryan with his aunties.
We ate the most amazing food, had therapeutic aromatherapy massages and rested in the most comfortable beds. It certainly was the therapy that we all needed. Our hearts, minds and bodies had a chance to rest and to heal. It was time to de-stress and to enjoy life just as we promised the boys we would before Robbie got sick.
It meant so much for us to go on a trip to Daisy Lodge as a family and to be able to drive past Dublin knowing we were not going into the hospital gave us the most amazing feeling. It lifted our spirits so high.
Robbie loves life
“The doctors and nurses are amazing. They gave and continue to give Robbie the best care. The side effects of his lifesaving treatment have caused Robbie a lot of pain. He has a lot of complications but he never complains. He is 6 years old now, and he is cancer free. He loves life and loves going to Daisy Lodge
Cancer Fund for Children helped our family to heal and filled our souls with joy which helped us give back to Robbie the childhood experiences that cancer stole from him and our family.
We were blessed to be able to experience this wonderful place and the beautiful people. We know that having another Daisy Lodge will mean so much to so many families, and give them the chance to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually like our family did.”
We are delighted that planning permission has been granted for a new therapeutic short break centre for families facing a devastating childhood cancer diagnosis at Lisloughrey, situated near Cong in County Mayo. Find out more about our plans and how you can get involved here.