During the Connolly’s holiday, Iris was having trouble walking and was being sick three or four times a day. The results of an MRI scan revealed a tumour the size of a ping pong ball at the back of her head.
After an 11-hour operation in Malaysia, doctors had only removed 40 per cent of the tumour due to its proximity to the part of the brain responsible for major functions such as breathing and coordination.
Two weeks later than scheduled, Iris and her family returned to England and went straight to Great Ormond Street Hospital to have the rest of the tumour removed.
Iris is now receiving treatment for the next year to completely get rid of the cancer.
Faced with such huge and sudden changes to their family life, Debra and Sean found Rainbow Trust after searching for something to help them keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for Iris and her baby sister Athina.
Family Support Worker Alison, from the Essex Care Team, drives them to hospital because when Iris’s immunity is low, the risk of catching an infection on the tube is too great. Driving also enables them to take more toys, food, clothes and books.
“It makes our stay easier and more comfortable. But the biggest bonus of Alison driving us is that Iris has the undivided attention of one parent during the journey. She is partly excited and partly anxious as we go in, so a little attention and reassurance goes a long way at this point.”
“Sometimes there are things we don’t want to discuss in front of Iris, so Alison will play with her outside while we talk.”
Fundraising for a Family Support Worker
Alison has made such a difference to the Connolly’s lives that they are raising £35,000 to fund the annual cost of a Family Support Worker. After Iris’s treatment caused her hair to fall out, Debra was concerned she would look like a boy so she shaved her own head to make Iris feel more comfortable. Friends and relatives, including those in New Zealand and Malaysia, have shaved their heads to help the Connolly’s reach their fundraising target.
Others have boosted funds by running 10k, taking part in a family fun day and Iris’s school held a pesto sale and tasting day.
“Fundraising gives our family and friends something positive to do. Most families don’t start fundraising until their child’s treatment, for one reason or another, has ended.
“However, we found that most people want to do something as soon as they learned about Iris’s diagnosis. We therefore decided that we would do the most good by starting to fundraise straight away.”
If you would like to donate to Iris’s campaign, please visit www.justgiving.com/Rainbowgirl
Read Iris’s blog for updates on how Iris is doing and how the fundraising is going - http://irisconnolly.wordpress.com/