Before she was sick, Elsie Mae was a bundle of energy. David and Richella called her their little “firecracker.” Growing up on the family farm with her big brother and sister, seven-year old Joseph and 10-year old Molly, Elsie Mae was enjoying a happy, carefree childhood. Over the next few weeks, Elsie Mae had a series of blood tests. David and Richella were worried sick. They had no idea what the outcome would be. Finally, after they took her to the hospital for her last test, they received the news every parent dreads. It was leukaemia. Their beautiful little girl had cancer.
Everything is on hold. You can’t plan anything. Elsie Mae should have started in playschool and that’s on hold. All our lives are on hold.
For Elsie Mae and her family life had become sad and frightening, penned in by hospital walls. As her treatment went on, Elsie Mae’s condition worsened. Richella recalls: “She was so ill that she got a fear of the hospital. She got a fear of nurses, so if she saw anyone coming near her wearing blue, she went berserk. She wouldn’t let them come near her with a needle.” It wasn’t just the emotional strains Elsie Mae had to deal with. Within weeks, her treatment started to take a visible physical toll on her too.Donate
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Barretstown Has Given Us Hope
Barretstown was something I’d heard of but I’d no idea what is was. We were extremely anxious before we came. We didn’t know what to expect. But, when we got there, for me, it was like a comfort blanket. It was like somebody put a little blanket around us and told us ‘You’re OK. You’re safe here. Here you can breathe.’ The people who volunteer at Barretstown are amazing. You walk into this beautiful environment where you’re met at the car by three or four people who take your bags for you and want to do things for you. They want you to sit down and they’re making you coffee. You just walk in the door, leave your real worries behind you and have a fantasy weekend.
Barretstown at home
Barretstown has become a magic word in our house. It means joy, it means happiness. But the biggest impact Barretstown has had is to enable us to know that there was something else outside of cancer. There was something else outside of treatment. And that something was fun. It was something brighter to look forward to – a sense of freedom and joy.
Right now, all over Ireland, there are thousands of children whose lives are on hold while they’re coping with serious illnesses. So many are missing out on the happy childhood that every child deserves. And that’s exactly why Barretstown has launched the PRESS PLAY campaign. We’re doing all we can to make sure that every child with a serious illness who would benefit from a trip to Barretstown gets to have one.
It’s an opportunity to PRESS PLAY on their childhoods.
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.