April Banks was just two years old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2015. Since then she
has beaten cancer twice, and unfortunately is fighting it again.
April’s mum Katie is sharing her family’s experience of childhood cancer to raise awareness and vital funds to help us build Daisy Lodge Mayo, a new therapeutic short break centre for children across Ireland diagnosed with cancer and their families.
“Cancer does not in any way, shape or form define April. She is bright, fun, loving, playful and very intelligent. She is a big tomboy and loves all things football and PlayStation.
April Is So Special
When April was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, she was very young. She had been sick on and off for a couple weeks and it was very unusual for her. She didn’t fully understand what was happening, but my husband, Grahame and I did our best to communicate this to her. April knew she had cancer, she knew she was so special and strong, and she knew that she could power through the tough journey in front of her.
April’s diagnosis was very difficult. We were quite a young family. I was just 24 when she was first diagnosed and had returned to education. My husband had just opened his own business. None of this mattered any more, our only focus was April and helping her in every way possible.
April is our only child, but I have two young sisters, Lily and Zara and they are like sister’s to April. Lily was just five and Zara seven years old when April was first diagnosed with cancer and they really struggled to comprehend the unfairness of it all.
We both have large families, and everyone was devastated. As April is the youngest child, she has always been the light of everybody’s life, and everybody felt this incredible pain.
We first went to Cancer Fund for Children’s Daisy Lodge in Newcastle, Co. Down in February 2017. April had just finished more than a year of gruelling treatment and had had her Hickman line (central line) removed the week before. She was cancer free and absolutely thriving.
Our Short Break Helped Us Breath
Before our short break we had been in fight or flight mode for over 16 months. We were just about to
resume normal life, getting back to school, work and playing with friends again. It was a very daunting time. Our first short break in Daisy Lodge helped us to breath, to relax, to enjoy each other’s company and forget about the world for three days. It was so needed and appreciated.
We brought April’s little Aunty Lily with us and it was magical. As soon as we arrived, we felt warm and safe. The girls loved playing with the little farm toys in front of the massive upstairs window overlooking the Mourne Mountains, a beautiful and tranquil view that Grahame Loved waking up to in the mornings.
We Felt Whole Again
When we left Daisy Lodge after our first short break we felt whole again, we felt together, ready, and relaxed. We were so grateful for life and to the generosity and caring of the staff in Daisy Lodge and their donors.
We have been incredibly lucky to go to Daisy Lodge four time. Each therapeutic break has been as special as the other but one of our favourite memories has been taking part in the arts and craft workshops. We love to get creative, and having the guidance of Cancer Fund for Children’s fantastic Cancer Support Specialists has allowed us to make pieces of art that we now have hanging in house and on our Christmas tree. These are special memories from our time together in Daisy Lodge.
It Would Mean So Much
Cancer Fund for Children can only provide one in seven families from the Island of Ireland with a short break in Daisy Lodge, in Newcastle. It would mean so much to have another therapeutic short break centre in Mayo.
So many families in the South that have never been to Daisy Lodge in Northern Ireland because the drive is just that bit too long for cancer patients. To have another centre in Mayo would be wonderful for them. They would finally get to have the much needed therapeutic family time that Daisy Lodge offers.
We personally think Daisy Lodge has helped us so much through the years. It is our safe place. When things get tough, I call our social worker and ask if there are any places available as I know it’ll bring us back down to earth a little. It is so special to us. To be able to facilitate short breaks for more families throughout Ireland struggling with childhood cancer will be amazing.
If you would like to support our capital appeal to build a new Daisy Lodge in Cong Co. Mayo please contact our Ireland Relationship Manager Belinda Kearns, e: firstname.lastname@example.org or make an online donation today