Gemma (16) desribes battle with cancer

Gemma Carroll (16) from Glenswilly.

MY NAME is Gemma Carroll and I live in Glenswilly. I began feeling ill during my Junior Cert Examinations last June and as you can imagine it was put down to nerves, but my condition continued to worsen even after I visited the doctor and got a course of antibiotics.

I was admitted to Letterkenny General Hospital and four days later was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.


My family and I were in shock but I decided to complete my Junior Cert and the following morning I did my final exam in the hospital and was then transferred to Our Lady’s Hospital for Children in Crumlin to begin treatment. Chemotherapy made me very ill and the side effects caused my hair to fall out and my bones became weak and brittle which in turn left me in a lot of pain.

Since being diagnosed I have spent a lot of time in hospital and celebrated my 16th birthday there. I was the only patient in the paediatric ward in Letterkenny on Christmas Eve. The wonderful doctors and nurses and staff on the ward did everything possible to make Christmas special for me and my family.

I was transferred to Crumlin on December 27th and began treatment for a bone infection. When my immune system is weak from the side effects of chemotherapy I become more susceptible to infections. I was in Crumlin until March 14th, the doctors and nurses in Crumlin were amazing and looked after me very well.

Having cancer and going through chemotherapy is horrible but losing my friend Martina Maguire from Ardara to this terrible illness in January was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with.

The amazing support from Martina’s family and my family and friends has helped me cope. I know that Martina will always be with me and she inspires me every day to stay positive.

Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin is appealing for funds to refurbish St. John’s Ward. They plan to build 19 single rooms with en-suite facilities, an adolescent den and other vital improvements. They need to raise four million euro.

People have been so generous already and we have been able to donate €2,400 to St. John’s ward and €1,850 to Hand and Hand, a charity which offers practical support to families whose child is diagnosed with cancer.

I would like to thank all the people and clubs who made this possible; Glenswilly GAA Club, East Donegal Branch of the Irish Pony Club, Letterkenny Riding Club and the 2011 5th year pupils of Gairm Scoil Chu Uladh and members of An Garda Siochana.


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