Cappawhite’s Rónnad Armshaw was an “absolute star” throughout her battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Cappawhite’s Rónnad Armshaw, the daughter of Aisling and Michael, was an “absolute star” throughout her battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Rónnad was subjected to 30 nights on the Sunshine Ward at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), frequent trips to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, weekly blood samples, and spent hours on end in isolation due to low immunity. “She was strong, brave, took all her medication and done everything asked of her. She didn’t need to be tube fed, but had to go to Crumlin for treatment every three months and still never complained. She got up afterwards, had something to eat and we drove straight back to Cappawhite,” Aisling tells The Nationalist.
Rónnad was an “absolute star” throughout treatment. She got to meet Jedward during her time at University Hospital Limerick.
Aisling recalls the devastating day Rónnad was diagnosed with blood cancer. “1st May 2014 changed our lives forever. I was working that day in UHL, and left my desk to go with Michael and Rónnad to the Caterpillar Day Ward for her repeat blood test. We were asked to wait for the results, we went for coffee and when we came back I instinctively knew something was wrong. We were brought into a treatment room and were told the words that no parent should ever have to hear, that your child has cancer.
"Michael fell to his knees in total and utter shock, but it was almost like an iceberg had hit me - I think I felt more calm, collected and was more able to cope because I had been reading up on Rónnad’s possible health complications after she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 1 [a genetic disorder that Michael was later diagnosed with at the age of 33] before she was even a year old. We were given a few minutes by ourselves to contact our families - I told Michael to pull himself together and not to get upset in front of Rónnad and frighten her,” Aisling remembers.
Rónnad was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2014, aged 2. Ray D'Arcy's 'Fix it Friday' helped replace Rónnad's lost monkey. The original monkey was wrapped up in Rónnad's bed clothes coming back from theatre. Now she has twins.
Aisling never left Rónnad’s side for 887 days of treatment. “Rónnad and I became a team - she knew what to expect of me and I knew what to expect of her. Michael stayed at home with our eldest daughter Hanorah (8) as we felt it was important that she had some stability. My parents Nora and Justus were brilliant too and without them we would have been homeless.
“I never left Rónnad’s side. We slept together in the same bed both at home and in a little hospital bed. I knew when she was hot and cold, if she was breathing or if she needed anything. I trained in Crumlin to take Rónnad’s bloods, administer her chemotherapy both orally and through her broviac, and changed her dressing. We had an understanding and she trusted me,” Aisling continues.
Aisling never left Rónnad’s side for 887 days of treatment.
Rónnad has 1878 beads of courage - a bead for every procedure, every theatre, every blood test, every admission, every chemo, one for when her hair fell out and one for when it grew back. “They represent her journey. You can never go back after being through as family what we have been through. One thing that I do know is that there is always someone worse off than you. We have made many great friends along the way and we have lost some beautiful little friends too. We are part of a family that no one wants to be in. But we are here, we are together and we are stronger,” Aisling adds.
Rónnad with her big sister Hanorah.
Rónnad is repeating junior infants at Cappawhite National School. She is delighted to be back with her friends and has fantastic support from her teacher Alice Flynn.
Rónnad is in junior infants at Cappawhite National School.
“Rónnad is a very special little girl who enjoys life to the full. She loves animals, her dog Odon, swimming, playing outside with her big sister Hanorah, watching Scooby Doo, listening to stories, dressing up as a princess, helping her Opa in the garden, and going to school. Her favourite colour is purple. Her favourite princess is Aurora. Her favourite dinner is her Nanna Nora’s spaghetti Bolognese. And best of all she gives magic hugs,” Aisling smiles.
Rónnad with her dog Odon. She is looking forward to the future.
The Armshaw family from Cappawhite.