I know there will be a little girl or boy in Crumlin this Christmas who’s getting injections and lying in a hospital bed, in pain, just like Aidan was. They need to know they have Barretstown to look forward to. Aidan's Dad Ciarian
Aidan was just 4 years old. For months he had been getting sore legs. My wife Leonie and I took him to our GP, who suspected it was down to growing pains. Then one morning Aidan couldn’t walk down the stairs. We were sent off to Crumlin for a blood test. Straightaway we got the diagnosis. Our little boy had cancer. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our world broke to pieces. We thought we might lose Aidan.
I saw Aidan go from a happy little boy, and loving big brother to our little girl Maya, to someone who had become quiet and withdrawn. Aidan stopped talking. He stopped smiling. He would communicate to us by shakes or nods of his head. He was going into himself.
Early on in his treatment, he got sepsis, a blood infection. He spent a month in hospital. We thought we might lose Aidan. Thankfully we didn’t. But Aidan wasn’t the same little boy who went into hospital. Every day I had to watch my son being forced to do things that caused him pain. As his dad, it was my job to protect him, and to take his pain away. But I couldn’t do anything.
I want to give:
Home for Christmas
On Christmas Eve, Aidan was still very sick, but thankfully we were able to bring him home. It was such a shock for Maya, who was only three, to see her big brother so sick. He was bloated and weak and he had lost all of his hair.
Between November and December, Aidan had spent four weeks in hospital, including a weekend in ICU. I know during that whole time he didn’t feel anything like a regular child anymore.
A Lasting Impact
After Christmas when Aidan was coming through the worst of his treatment, Barretstown offered us a place in one of their camps. It came at just the right time for us. For my whole family, it was like entering a magical world. A world that was all about children having fun. In camp, Aidan got to meet other children who had cancer. He saw them taking their tablets. They showed each other their Freddies and talked about their injections. Like Aidan, a lot of campers had lost their hair.
Even though we had to leave Barreststown, the happy memories Aidan made in camp haven’t
left him. It’s like cancer had snuck in and turned off the light. But Barretstown came and turned
the light back on – not just for Aidan, but for all of us.
The Impact of Your Donation
Joy & Magic
Our arts and crafts team are always on hand with paint, facepaint, crayons, craft paper, bracelet beads, feathers and everything you can imagine, to bring out the creative side in each child!
All of our camps and programmes are designed to respond directly to the needs of a child living with a serious illness – both clinical and psychological. Our unique model of challenge, discovery, reflection and success is recognised by paediatricians and psychologists all over the world as an important and necessary component of a child’s treatment.
The loss of control that many children and their families experience as a result of a serious illness can gradually erode confidence, diminish self-esteem, body image and coping skills. We aim to give this back by empowering and encouraging each individual to step out of their comfort zone and begin to re-build their confidence, trust and self-esteem and discover something new about themselves and their ability.
We believe that fun should be an integral part of what we do. Fun and laughter are key ingredients in improving the lives of those affected by serious illness.
Our outreach programme brings the playful spirit of Barretstown beyond the gates of our beautiful castle into hospitals and communities all over the country.