Young girl’s in­spir­ing story

He­len O’Cal­laghan hears about brain tu­mours in chil­dren

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

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.

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