Aidan Murray was only nine years old when his mother received a call from an oncologist informing her that his heel tumor was cancerous. This devastating news was followed by another blow – Aidan would need an amputation below the knee. As a sporty and active child, losing the ability to play soccer was a huge blow for him.
After the diagnosis, Aidan underwent two rounds of chemotherapy before the amputation took place. He then had months of further chemotherapy and struggled initially with an ill-fitting prosthetic leg. However, with time, Aidan adapted and got a new prosthetic that fit him much better.
The National Cancer Registry’s report shows that Aidan is among the 82% of children, adolescents, and young adults diagnosed with cancer in Ireland since 1994 who were still alive by 2020. While this is a success story, there are still long-term consequences to consider. The side effects of treatment, both physical and psychological, can have lasting effects on a patient’s life.
Prof. Owen Smith from Trinity College Dublin highlights the importance of comprehensive cancer treatment that addresses not only the medical aspects but also the psychosocial wellbeing of patients. He praises the therapeutic camps and programs provided by Barretstown in Co Kildare, which Aidan eventually attended and found to be an incredibly positive experience.
Barretstown’s programs aim to increase the confidence, self-esteem, and independence of children affected by serious illnesses. Aidan’s participation allowed him to bond with other camp participants, build relationships, and gain a sense of normalcy. The experience gave him the confidence to embrace his prosthetic leg and be more comfortable in his own skin.
Aidan’s journey isn’t just about survival; it’s about quality of life. While cancer treatment has come a long way, it’s essential to consider the long-term effects and provide support for patients in their recovery. Aidan’s positive experience at Barretstown serves as a testament to the importance of psychosocial support and recreational programs in helping young cancer survivors thrive.
Sources: The Irish Times (source article)