Young girl’s inspiring story
Helen O’Callaghan hears about brain tumours in children
HOLLY Kelly’s daughter, Darcie Belle, is seven this month. She loves colouring, singing songs and trying to get five more minutes playtime with her friends.
“She’s sweet, caring, cheeky. She has a lot of sass and likes bossing me around,” says Holly.
However, this time two years ago, Holly and partner Mark were only just getting a tiny inkling of a nightmare awaiting them. They had just had their second child, Jonah, and when they noticed “a couple of insignificant see ming incidents” involving Darcie, they thought she was out of sorts due to the new baby.
“It was nothing major, just a couple of things that didn’t add up. She was tired and she was having these 20-second episodes out of consciousness. You’d call her and she wouldn’t hear you.”
Darcie was actually having seizures caused by a brain tumour.
“I couldn’t say the word tumour for a long time. It made me feel sick,” says Holly. With an expert neurology team in Temple Street Hospital closely monitoring Darcie, it was obvious her condition was deteriorating.
“Everything was a challenge: eating, drinking. There were nights where she was running up and down the hall turning off lights, trying to open windows and doors. She didn’t know what she was doing,” says Mark.
Darcie’s tumour was pressing on the brain region that controls speech. As her condition worsened she began having trouble speaking. Sentences got jumbled. Names became confused. Then, her voice started disappearing altogether. “She was watching Frozen one day, the song was playing and she couldn’t sing it. She knew what it was but it just wouldn’t come out,” says Mark. For Holly, not being able to hear her daughter speak or sing was “the worst”.
Darcie needed surgery to remove the tumour. “When I carried her down to the surgery, I couldn’t look at her face. I just didn’t want to let go of her,” says Holly. In ICU the morning after her seven-hour surgery, “she saw me and she smiled, just for a second”, says Mark. “I just wanted to hear her say ‘Mom’ and she did. After that, I felt everything else we could work at,” says Holly.
Temple Street’s neurological team are monitoring Darcie’s progress but, post-op, she hasn’t had a single seizure. Her story is the first in a series of four family stories released this year to highlight the impact donations have on Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the patients in its care.
LITTLE FIGHTER: Darcie Bell was diagnosed with a brain tumour but is now recovering.