While on holiday with her family in Malaysia in February 2010, three year old 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 told Iris’s parents, Sean and Debra, that they had only been able to remove 40 per cent of the tumour due to it’s 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 arrived back in the UK and went straight to Great Ormond Street Hospital where the rest of the tumour was removed. Iris is now receiving treatment for the next year to completely get rid of the cancer.
With the huge and sudden changes to their family life, Debra and Sean found out about Rainbow Trust after searching for a service which could help them keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for Iris and her baby sister Athina during this very difficult time. They soon met Family Support Worker Alison from the Essex Care Team. Alison provides lots of transport to and from hospital and is there for hospital appointments.
Due to the treatment Iris’s hair has fallen out and she was very concerned that with no hair she would look like a boy. So Mum Debra has shaved her head to make Iris feel more comfortable about it and many friends and family have followed suit, raising money in the process - so far about £20,000!
Debra and Sean, along with Iris, Athina and all their friends and family are aiming to raise £35,000 – the annual cost of funding a Rainbow Trust Family Support worker.
The head shaving craze has spread to Debra’s sisters in New Zealand, her cousin in Malaysia and as well as friends and supporters in the UK - about 15 people in all! Iris’s school held a pesto sale and tasting, friends of the family are raising money by taking part in a 10k run and a Family Fun Day on Saturday 10 July was a great day for the whole family.
‘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.
The donation you will make will help those families in the near future who suddenly find that the statement “thank goodness it’s not my child” no longer applies to them.’
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/