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My Cancer Story: Brian Leahy, Engineering Manager, Advanced Technology

Author: Cormac Byrne  /  25th Mar, 2022  /  News, Responsible Business

Every year all around the globe, millions of families are affected by cancer.

Today marks Daffodil Day 2022, which provides an opportunity to come together and take something back, giving hope and raising funds so that one day cancer will take no more. Many forms of cancer have a high chance of being cured if diagnosed early and treated adequately.

Fundraising and supporting cancer research and treatment continues to be a key focus of Mercury’s CSR strategy and we will be hosting a number of initiatives throughout 2022.

Many of our employees have been impacted by this terrible disease. Our people are at the heart of everything that we do. We are so proud of them for sharing their personal stories to help create awareness and promote the importance of fundraising for cancer research.

Brian Leahy, an Engineering Manager for our Advanced Technology Business Unit, bravely shares his young daughter’s cancer story below.

Can you tell us your personal / family story with cancer?

“On 31st May 2021, Corlaith, our cute, bubbly little 4-year-old was feeling nauseous while in the creche. She vomited and was then perfectly fine, until thirty hours later when it happened again. This continued on and off for seven days; vomiting and complaining of headaches one day, running and jumping around the next. After a week, we brought her to urgent care in Connolly Hospital, Dublin, with low blood sugar levels, where she was placed on an IV and transferred to Tallaght. After three days of treating her stomach problems, and with Corlaith jumping around, showing no signs of anything wrong, a CT scan was planned as she was still having slight headaches. On Friday 11th June, we were expecting her home, having told the creche that Corlaith was fine, and that she was having one last check to get the all clear. That’s when a lesion showed up on the CT and she was transferred to Temple Street. Here we met the amazing neurosurgical team, led by Dr John Caird and saw the scan for ourselves.

“You didn’t need to be a radiographer to decipher the results. A tumor one fifth the size of her brain was visible, and they were operating on the Tuesday to take the whole thing out. The blow was physical and left us breathless. The following week the blows continue. We find out that it’s malignant and that she has a cancerous tumor called Ependymoma. They need to operate again to remove the smallest bit that’s left, and after that we’re told her best chance is proton radiotherapy in Essen, Germany.”

“While all of was going on, we were expecting our third child in four weeks’ time. We were asking ourselves how we could possibly organise and pay for a two-month trip to Germany during all of this? This is where we discovered that the most extraordinary of charities exists, not just from an economical viewpoint, but emotionally as well. John Glynn from the Gavin Glynn Foundation took care of everything, such as flights, transfers, car rentals, covid updates, accommodation and all catering. As all five of us were travelling to Germany, Corlaith, 4, Saorla, 2, and our newborn Caoimhe, we needed additional family support, so John booked flights for both our mothers to help, as well as accommodation to cater for that support.”

“Our third daughter, Caoimhe, was born on Friday 23rd July, six weeks to the day on from Corlaith’s tumor diagnosis. Two days later, I flew out to Essen with my mum and the two girls. Two weeks later, after securing Caoimhe’s passport, my wife flew our with her mother to join us. The treatment continued for the next two months, and we returned home in September. We made the most of our time in Germany for Corlaith and her sisters out – visiting parks and castles and other attractions so that they would all remember those memories and so that her treatment would not hold centre stage. We are now in a programme of three-monthly monitoring with MRI scans to ensure that the tumor doesn’t return.”

Tell us about the impact and change the diagnosis had on your family?

“This whole ordeal has had a huge impact and caused massive stress for my family, especially in the initial stages with all of the stresses of surgery on our little girl. We are doing well at the moment as Corlaith is doing great, but we get a bit anxious when the three-month scans come along. Thankfully we’ve had two clear scans to date, and this is keeping us going.”

Corlaith Leahy rings a bell after her treatment.

Why are you supporting the fight against cancer?

“I want to get more awareness out there so that people can understand and catch symptoms early. The more we can support and the more funding we can issue to help medical research against cancer, the better.”

What can people do to stand up to cancer and why do you feel it’s important to support fundraising and creating awareness?

“Everyone knows their own child better than any doctor. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and ensure they get any tests that are needed to keep you and them healthy. Please support cancer fundraising. It has saved lives, and with your help it can continue to do so. Cancer will affect so many of us and our families as we go through our lives. Please give those who are affected a fighting chance.”

To donate to the Irish Cancer Society, please click here.

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