Listen carefully. Can you hear the Irish nation cheering? Today we Irish are cheering one woman’s strength, and sighing in relief as a terrible injustice has been righted. A mother who has fought for her daughter with dignity and courage, has won. If you were living here it would be enough for me to say, “Lucy has got her medical card”, and you would know what I meant, for little Lucy is well known to us all.
Last year at the age of eight Lucy went from perfect health to being unwell. It began as tummy aches and some bruising. Her doctor ran tests and referred her to Accident and Emergency where she was admitted and operated on. Lucy had an abdominal mass and her family were told the devastating news that she had cancer. One week later she began aggressive chemotherapy, and began to lose her shoulder length blonde hair. Life had changed forever.
As Lucy fought bravely another battle began. Lucy was one of four children. Her mother and father had been working all their lives, but upon diagnosis her mother stopped work in order to look after Lucy. I cannot imagine what it must be like to try balancing life as a mother of three children at home, with being a mother of a seriously ill child. As well as the difficulty of spending so much time in a hospital there is the added financial pressures that come with the diagnosis.
A wig for Lucy cost €850. It was suggested that they apply for a medical card, but incredibly the application for Lucy was refused. Certain cancers do qualify for a card but not all, Lucy’s was not on the list. GPs visits cost €50, not to mention her wig and numerous other costs stretching a long way into the future.
It is at this point we got to meet Lucy’s mom Angela, as she decided to go public. At a time when her daughter was so ill, and life in turmoil, filled with uncertainty, she found the strength to speak out. She did it not only for Lucy but the other children she saw who were in the same boat. She informed the nation how our sickest of children were being let down, and we listened and were sickened by what we heard. She began a blog and a facebook page, and young Lucy stole the hearts of the nation. We all waited for the nonsense to end and for news of the appeal, hopeful this part of Angela’s nightmare would be over.
When it came we were stunned. Lucy’s card was once again denied. Decency and common sense were nowhere in sight. Many of us hung our heads in shame, others were incensed.
I remember hearing Lucy’s mom on the radio. It was heartbreaking. So many people were upset by the decision that they offered to give her their medical cards or to organise fundraisers. On many occasions I heard Angela say, ‘it’s not about the money, it’s about justice for all our sick children’. All money raised in Lucy’s name, including those from a song called ‘I’ll follow you‘ by hvmmingbyrd, were donated to Aoibheanns Pink Tie, (an amazing charity I havewritten about here before). As the rest of us wondered and shook our heads at this madness, young Lucy’s fight continued, as did her mothers.
Then today I read the happy news. Lucy was to get her medical card. Not only that, but because of her fantastic mother’s grit and determination, no child or adult undergoing treatment will have to pay for a wig.
What can I say? Lucy has an exceptional mother who fought not only for her own child, but for so many others, and has made a difference. Tonight I hope she can feel proud of what she has achieved. It is just a terrible pity she ever had to fight in the first place. I wish her family continued strength during this difficult time, and Lucy a return to full heath as soon as possible. Earlier I read Angela’s blog entry telling us the news and thanking those who had helped her highlight her cause. Here on my blog tonight I would like to take this opportunity to thank Angela herself for what she has done for sick children in Ireland, today and in the future.
Personally I believe all children with cancer should automatically qualify for a medical card, but this for now, is a step in the right direction.
Angela, Ireland owes you a massive debt of gratitude. Thank you.
**** An Update. Since I wrote this there has been a change in policy. Thanks solely to Angela’s tenacity, courage and strength all children diagnosed with cancer in Ireland receive a medical card for five years.
photo credit: stars alive via photopin cc