Anna Mae’s Story
Anna Mae Doyle (12) and her mum, Ciara live in Co. Wicklow with sister Erin (14) and Dad, Ken. In July 2020 Anna was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer in her leg. Together they are sharing Anna’s story to support Cancer Fund for Children and the need for a new Daisy Lodge, therapeutic short break centre in Cong. Co. Mayo.
“My name is Anna Mae Doyle and I’m 11 years old. I’m the youngest on my dad’s side of the family and I’m the youngest sibling. I like going on adventures. I’m very outgoing, happy, and bubbly. My friends say that I am really funny.
In June 2020 I started getting a pain in my leg. At first, we thought it was a growing pain and that it should be ok. Then it got progressively worse and I found it really hard to walk. So, we booked an appointment with the doctor. He said it was probably just tendonitis or a small fracture and gave us a letter for the hospital. He said if it’s not better in three days to go to the hospital for an x-ray.
I felt that the pain in my leg did get better. I had a special gel to put on it three times a day and it felt like the pain was easing a lot. But that Sunday 28th June, I had a sleepover with my cousins. I was playing and fell off a small ledge, and felt a really sharp pain in my leg. We went to the hospital because my knee was swelling and it was too painful to walk on. After 8 long hours in A&E, 2 blood tests and an x-ray we were sent home to wait for the results as they saw a shadow. Lots happened in between then and on the 8th July I was officially diagnosed with osteosarcoma. I had more scans, blood tests and a biopsy. It was really scary.
My treatment plan was 29 weeks of chemotherapy. I had 10 weeks of chemo, then I had my operation to get a prosthesis put in. Three-quarters of my leg bone was removed and I had a metal bar put in to replace my femur. Then I had 19 more weeks of chemo just to make sure all the cancer cells were gone. On the 8th of April, I had my last chemo and I rang the bell!
Cancer Changed My Life
Being diagnosed with cancer was a big shock to me. When I was told I had osteosarcoma I didn’t know what it meant. It changed my whole life and affected everything I did. There were certain things I couldn’t do anymore and there were certain things I could only do. I was also very tired. I missed a lot of school so I’m repeating 6th class as I want to be prepared for 1st year. But at the same time, it wasn’t a horrible experience. I got to meet some amazing people and I got to spend more time with my mum. I was more excited to see my friends and family when I could as they mean a lot to me.
We went to Cancer Fund for Children’s Daisy Lodge in Newcastle Co. Down in July this year for a short break. Daisy Lodge is such a lovely place. It made me feel so relaxed. I didn’t have to worry about anything. All I was thinking about was going outside, being there with my family, and having the best time I could possibly have. It was just magical.
I was able to hang out with one of my friends Emer that I met in the hospital which was so nice. But my favourite memory from my time at Daisy Lodge was having lots of fun with my older sister Erin. We played on the swings and hung out so much. She is two years older than me and is often out with her friends or feeling really tired after being in school so it was just so nice getting to hang out with her.
Daisy Lodge Brought Us Together
Going to Daisy Lodge as a family calmed us down. It brought us back to the present, and reminded us to enjoy time with your family. Soon everyone will be back to work and school and we won’t see each other as much. It would usually just be me and mum. Dad could be tired and Erin could have had a rough day in school so she would go into her room and then I’d go into my room because I had nothing to do. Going to Daisy Lodge brought us together more.
Another Daisy Lodge in Co. Mayo would mean that many more families affected by cancer will get to go and enjoy the experience and see how amazing Daisy Lodge is.”
We Felt At Home
Anna’s mum Ciara adds,
“There is absolutely nothing like Daisy Lodge down here. We didn’t really know what to expect when we drove up there but my goodness it was amazing. There is just something about the place. Anne our Cancer Support Specialist was unbelievable. The experience was like walking into your Nanny and Granda’s house. The welcome was just so warm and it was like we had been there so many times before and knew everyone. We felt so at home and relaxed. The staff couldn’t do enough for us.
My favourite experience was having my complementary therapy. I had a back massage with Deirdre and she is a magic woman with her hands. I felt as if I was walking on a cloud for the rest of the day. It was just unbelievable. The food was a close second. It was just so nice to be waited on, to have home-cooked meals, and for someone to ask you if you want a cup of tea. We had missed that with Covid.
Stop & Spend Time Together
Going to Daisy Lodge meant we had to just stop and spend time together. At home, everything gets in the way. We could never just sit down together. You don’t realise how much you need a therapeutic break until you get there. Deirdre brought it back to me. She said you need to be selfish for 20 mins or half an hour every day and have some ‘me time’. When you are going through cancer you think ‘I don’t have time for that. I have to keep going.’ It’s only when you are being made to stop and listen to your body and listen to your mind that you realise how much you needed the break. To be given that opportunity was unbelievable. It’s so hard to put into words how it makes you feel.”
There is nothing like Daisy Lodge in Ireland so it would be unbelievable to have a second Daisy Lodge that will accommodate even more families experiencing cancer.
Anna is doing fantastic now. She was in a wheelchair for a long time but her leg is getting stronger. She is a little bionic woman!”
Anna and Ciara, thank you so much for courageously sharing your story. To support our capital appeal for Daisy Lodge Mayo and help us ensure that young people like Anna Mae and their families don’t have to face cancer alone, please email our Ireland Relationship Manager, Belinda Kearns e: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or join our Daisy Chain fundraising campaign here.