Brave Aughrim girl promotes childhood cancer awareness month

19-year-old Leanne Quigley was like any other teenager until December 2011 when her life changed beyond recognition.

The sports star, who played camogie for Co Wicklow, wasn’t overly concerned when she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia and told she needed a bone marrow transplant.

But that was the start of an 18-month nightmare during which she had a colostomy bag fitted, was revived twice after going into cardiac arrest, was diagnosed with a massive clot and a bleed on her brain and suffered a stroke which left her paralysed down one side and barely able to speak.

At 17 Leanne had spent a year-and-a-half in hospital and had to set about rebuilding her life.

After leaving hospital she spent several months in a wheelchair and had the mental ability of a 12-year-old.

Leanne not only had to learn how to walk again but also to spell and write.

After her diagnosis, Leanne was taken to Crumlin Hospital in Dublin where her three siblings were tested to see if any of them were a match for her bone marrow transplant.

They were overjoyed when older sister Tracey was found to be suitable – but Leanne’s health worsened rapidly and doctors realised something more sinister was at play.

Her father found her haemorrhaging on their bathroom floor in January 2012 and after a spell in intensive care Leanne returned home.

But she suffered another bleed the following month and tests revealed she had a mass on her bowel and had to have a temporary colostomy bag fitted.

All her prayers were supposed to be answered with a transplant but when Tracey went for her pre-surgery medical in April 2012, doctors discovered she had an overactive thyroid meaning she was no longer a suitable donor.

Leanne received treatment to boost her bone marrow but, devastatingly, that failed.

Things went from bad to worse in July 2012 when the teen was taken to hospital suffering from severe headaches and loss of power and ended up going into cardiac arrest twice.

Leanne was put into an induced coma and transferred to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital where surgery revealed she had a massive clot and bleed on her brain.

She then suffered a stroke and her distraught family was forced to watch as the once bubbly and active teen lost the feeling down her right side and struggled to string a sentence together.

Her dad had to give up work and Leanne’s siblings, especially her baby brother PJ, now eight, found it hard to cope seeing their sister so ill.

But the first hint of the miracle recovery was when Leanne was well enough to have her bone marrow transplant  September 2012 and was let home two weeks ahead of schedule.

She went back for surgery on January of that year to have the section of her skull that was removed during her brain operation put back in and to have her colostomy bag reversed.

Leanne returned to school at Avondale college in Rathdrum when she should have been leaving, last month she received her Leaving cert results and is currently studying at the  Bray Institute of Further Education, studying Social studies and community care.

The sports mad girl returned to playing camogie at the end of last year all has not been rosie as she has been diagnosed with osteopenia as a result of chemotherpy and six weeks ago suffered had a seizure at half time in a Camogie match was diagnosed with Epilepsy.

Last week Leanne posted the following on her Facebook page.

“I thought a lot about doing this post for a while but always deleted it, seeing as it’s September and Childhood Cancer Awareness month I’m doing my bit for the kids and teenagers of St Johns ward in Crumlin speaking from experience I couldn’t agree more with this !!

I know that it effects more than just the person diagnosed but I seen it in myself that I was forced to hold it together cause no one else could.

I was hiding from reality, I was struggling but I’m stubborn so I hid it, I’ve started to realise even to this day I question why ..

Knowing I’ll never get an answer kills. Kids who fight cancer and win there battles are 3 times more likely to face depression and anxiety as adults ‪#‎GoGoldForChildhoodCancerAwareness‬

Tune into the East Coast FM Morning Show on Friday morning where Leanne will be a guest speaking to Michelle McMullen around 11.15am.


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