She is just under two years old and has already become one of the bravest little girls in Co Longford.
Her name is Emily Kane and she is the daughter of Theresa and Frank who live in Drumlish. When she was 15 months old, doctors at the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar diagnosed Emily with a rare cancer called Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis (LCH).
On Sunday, September 14 next, Emily’s family will hold a fundraising event to raise not only some much needed funds for research into the illness, but also to raise awareness into a cancer that is so rare, just 10 other children in the country have been diagnosed with it.
“Emily was diagnosed at the end of January,” her mother Theresa recalled. “Her skin was very irritated and she had a lump on the side of her ear. I thought initially that she had eczema, but then at 15 months old I noticed that she had made no attempt to walk, so I took her to the GP.”
From there little Emily was sent to the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar and then onto the Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Within a few days, Theresa and Frank’s worst nightmare was realised - their baby daughter had cancer, and more precisely a very rare type in the form of LCH.
Those suffering from LCH have too many histiocytes - a type of white blood cell that normally helps to fight infection. The histiocytes gather together in large numbers causing damage to healthy parts of the body.
“They say it is curable,” continued Theresa who also pointed out that remission is high in the majority of those that are diagnosed. “There is no guarantee that it won’t come back, but at the moment Emily is receiving chemo and is on steroids, and she is responding well to treatment.”
The family have made numerous trips to Crumlin since Emily’s diagnosis and her two older brothers have been very supportive throughout. So too have the Kanes’ extended family, neighbours and their many friends.
“We have received great support from everyone and I want to take the opportunity to thank them for that,” added Theresa.
“I also want to thank Dr Frances at the A&E in Mullingar hospital for detecting the Histiocytosis and all the staff there, and at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Thank you also to those who continue to ask after Emily and have sent get well cards. We really appreciate everything everyone has done for us.”
Meanwhile, the ‘Walk a Mile with Emily’ awareness event takes place in the village of Drumlish on Sunday week. Starting at the community centre at noon, participants will walk around the block in the north Longford village sporting blue t-shirts. Then Emily’s mother will let off a number of blue balloons to mark the occasion.
“Afterwards we will all gather together in the community centre where there will be tea, coffee and biscuits, and we can all have a chat,” said Theresa.
“We will have buckets and will be encouraging everyone to donate on the day. There is no association for this illness in Ireland but I have received great support from the association in England and in the US, so all funds raised on the day will be going to England.”
Emily Kane will be two years old in October and so far, she is doing well on her treatment.