MAYO girl Summer O’Malley-Kearney has seen more fights in her eight short years than most in their lives.
When she was eight months old, she was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH), an extremely rare cancer. She had many long stays at St. John’s Ward at Crumlin Hospital – inside and outside the ICU – but thankfully, a new trial drug from the US in 2016 allowed her to recover and return to good health for four years.
After starting school in 2018, Summer’s health started to decline in November 2019 and in March 2020 she was diagnosed with a completely new cancer: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Summer faced a new battle for her life, coinciding with the outbreak of a global pandemic.
Summer is one of 10 children with medical records who has been diagnosed with LCH and subsequently leukemia. She has also experienced rare side effects from some of the chemo drugs and this has had a tremendous impact on her neurological health, affecting her speech, balance and behavior.
She will require extensive rehabilitation for many years to come to support her recovery. These include play therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language and occupational therapy.
Summer treatment for leukemia will be completed in September 2022.
Starting this week (on May 8), in support of Summer and her path to recovery, a small group of close friends and family will walk, run, or cycle the remaining distance of Summer’s travels between Castlebar and Crumlin Hospital to receive treatment.
The group plans to cover 8,213km in 44 days and finish their challenge by hiking or running a half marathon on ‘Summer’s Solstice’, June 21.
A GoFundMe page – Striving for Summer – has been set up and they hope they can achieve their goal of covering 8,213 km in 44 days, raising awareness about childhood cancer, and generating money for Summer’s rehabilitation and her path to recovery.
As an extension of this, Summer’s family is keen to support the amazing charities that have helped them over the past eight years, including Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, Bumbleance and the National Children’s Cancer Research Center, Crumlin.
The response to the fundraiser has been overwhelming. Just five days after the page launched, it surpassed its € 15,000 target, raising € 38,330 to date.
Summer’s family and friends speak on the page about what a special little girl she is: ‘To anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of meeting Summer they’d all say the same thing – she’s the most caring, loving and funny girl who brightens up any room where she enters. She’s the little comedian in her family and is always up for a little craic.
Summer has seen more fights in her eight short years than most others in their lives. Even with everything she goes through and all the obstacles that have come her way, she never complains.
“Seeing Summer undergo chemotherapy again is just heartbreaking for everyone who knows her, but especially for her parents, Lorraine and Nicky, who couldn’t be more proud of their real superhero.”
Full details can be found on the Go Fund Me, Instagram and Facebook pages, Striving for Summer, and updates will be provided on all platforms during the challenge.