‘Know the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer’ warns mum
When Lisburn’s Civic Centre recently lit up to mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the gesture held a very special significance for the McCormick family.
Fiona, Declan, Grace and Mollie asked the council to light the civic building yellow to raise awareness about childhood cancer after little Mollie was diagnosed in 2018 at the age of just two.
“Mollie was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in August 2018 when she was two years old,” explained mum Fiona,
“Mollie’s symptoms came on very quickly.
“One day she was fine, and the next day I noticed that she had a droopy eyelid.
“Our GP thought it was a possible allergy but two days later there was no improvement and I realised that she was blind in her left eye.
“I took her straight to A&E and luckily she was triaged by a nurse who had suffered an eye cancer as a child, and she recognised the symptoms.
“Mollie was admitted to hospital immediately and a CT scan the following day identified a mass behind her left eye.
“On August 10, 2018 our greatest fears were realised when a biopsy confirmed that the tumour was rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer of the muscle behind the eye.
“In Mollie’s case, her tumour had extended to her sinuses and she began intense chemotherapy immediately.”
Due to the rare nature of Mollie’s diagnosis, the family had to travel to the United States to get specialist treatment for Mollie.
“In October 2018 we travelled to Jacksonville, Florida so Mollie could receive proton radiation, which at that time was not available within the UK,” continued Fiona.
“We spent nine weeks in Florida where she received both proton radiation and chemotherapy.
“Mollie completed her primary chemotherapy protocol which was followed by 12 months of maintenance chemotherapy which ended in January 2020.”
It has been a difficult road for Mollie and her family and the future remains uncertain. However the McCormicks are determined to do everything they can to raise awareness of childhood cancer and make sure that other people can spot the symptoms quickly.
“Cancer and its treatment has taken a huge toll on our little girl,” said Fiona.
“She never regained the eyesight in her left eye and she never will.
“Already she has developed a cataract in her left eye as a result of radiation treatment.
“If she survives cancer she will face many late effects from the treatment she received at such a young age.
“Mollie’s future is still uncertain but we do our best to let her enjoy life like every six year old should.
“My advice to every parent is to trust your instincts when it comes to your children.
“I knew there was something very seriously wrong with Mollie. In fact on the way to the hospital I left a voice message with my friend telling her ‘Mollie has a tumour behind her eye’.
“Know the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer,” Fiona added.