"Barretstown gave her the greatest gift of all – her confidence back."
Watch Áine and Patricia share their Barretstown journey here:
On June 4th, we were delighted to once again open our gates and begin to welcome children and their families back to camp. As a result of the pandemic, there are currently thousands of children and family members who are waiting to access our traditional camps and programmes, postponed since March 2020. We're delighted that we can begin to support these families again and welcome them back to Barretstown, but we need your help to do it.
Take a moment to read Áine's story below and help us to create more magic moments by supporting our appeal today.I want to help
''Will life ever feel normal or good again?'' - Patricia, Áine's Mum.
''I know all mums think they’ve the most amazing child in the world – but honestly, I think Áine is a little walking saint. She’s been through so much and is just the most positive, determined and strong person I’ve ever met'' - Patricia, Áine's Mum.
Áine was a perfectly healthy ten-year-old, when one day towards the end of a family holiday, her family noticed an issue with her movement, particularly Áine's leg. Her GP instructed them to go to the emergency room and before long, Patricia was given the news that Áine had a brain tumour.
''Within an hour, we were in an ambulance, being rushed from Limerick to Dublin, where Áine underwent one of the most high-risk surgeries you can have. Life, as we knew it stopped that day. They removed the tumour. But this was only the start of her journey to recovery. A journey she is still on today, nearly four years on.''
“Áine was left with losses to her speech and the ability to walk independently – she had to basically go back and learn everything from scratch again.” – Patricia.
''She spent 3 months in hospital after the operation. After that, to make sure she stayed tumour free, she had to go through a gruelling 30 radiotherapy treatments. Followed by a full nine months of chemotherapy. Our whole life was hospitals and treatment. Áine enjoying the beach before diagnosis. It was horrendous for Áine. There’s no other way to describe it.''
''By the end of that year, Áine was still wheelchair reliant with a long road to recovery ahead, but it looked like the worst was over. Áine was throwing herself into rehabilitation with physio, speech and language and occupational therapies.I remember we felt so optimistic about the year ahead - 2019 was going to be her year. We couldn’t wait to get out and back to some degree of normal life.But our early attempts were disasters.From trying to get her wheelchair through doors, to being the only child without hair and struggling to break the ice with peers - it was all so hard.''Donate
I want to give:
“All you want is to be normal. And to feel like you belong - that you’re the same as everyone else.” – Patricia.
No wheelchair could hold back this smile
''That January we’d reached our lowest point. We were driving up to Dublin for a procedure, and I remember the silence. We felt so flat. Both of us wondering: ''Will life ever feel normal or good again?'' And then a chance encounter, changed everything.
We stopped in Kildare Village and spotted a Barretstown pop-up shop. I wheeled Áine over for a look through the door, as we were on the list for a family camp in March. As we turned to go, we heard a woman say: ''Please, come in.'' You’ve no idea what those three words meant at that moment.
By the time she said, “sit down and we’ll have a coffee”, I was in floods. I just cried on top of her. She was so lovely. It later turned out she was Dee, the CEO of Barretstown, who happened to be volunteering there that day. There were two other volunteers there and they sat with Áine, drawing and chatting. And it was like this magic moment and turning point on our journey. We went in feeling so down, at one of the rawest points in our lives - and left completely energised.
The family attended camp in March of that year for the very first time. ''When March actually rolled around, and we came in those gates - wow! You know sometimes you’re half afraid to build things up in your head, in case they’re not as good as you’d hoped.Well Barretstown and that family camp, exceeded every expectation I had! It was everything I could have dreamed it would be for Áine, and then some.It gave her the greatest gift of all – her confidence back.
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.