Communities across South Tipperary have shown their support for a Cloneen child who’s battling serious illness.
Six year-old Bianca O’Brien was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia last March.
Since then she has undergone weekly chemotherapy sessions at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, as well as regular check-ups at the South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel.
However her parents, Tricia Doyle and Michael O’Brien, her brother Mikey and Bianca herself have been heartened by the way that people have rallied in support of the family.
“People have been just fantastic by organising benefit events and with their messages of support, prayers, donations of Holy Water from Lourdes and other presents”, said Tricia.
“It’s only at a time like this that you realise the goodness in people”.
Bianca became ill not long after a party to celebrate her 6th birthday last February.
She had a very high temperature and complained of pains in her stomach and legs and her parents brought her to the hospital in Clonmel in the early hours of the morning.
There she was tested for appendicitis, diabetes and meningitis, and when transferred to hospital in Crumlin she was diagnosed with leukaemia, on March 16.
Tricia and Michael were understandably devastated when they received the news but since then they’ve come to terms with Bianca’s illness and, supported by their family and friends, have been doing everything to help her.
Bianca’s bravery has also played no small part in her battle against leukaemia.
“She doesn’t complain about a thing”, says Tricia. “She is brilliant, she’s such a good girl and is always smiling”.
The family is also grateful to the medical teams looking after Bianca.
“The staff in Crumlin have been great and I can’t speak highly enough of all the staff at the South Tipp General in Clonmel, they’ve been absolutely brilliant”, says Tricia.
Bianca goes to the local school in Cloneen but hasn’t been able to attend for some time, although she joined her classmates and friends for the recent sports day.
Her family are hopeful that she’ll be able to return to school in September.
The funds collected at the benefit events will be used to support the family during the two and-a-half years of treatment that Bianca will undergo, and hopefully send them on a holiday when that treatment has ended.
Slievenamon Golf Club will be the venue for a special shave or dye night, organised by Katie Doherty, at the start of August, while a major fundraiser was held at the Clonmel Park Hotel earlier this month.
The Doyle and O’Brien families extend their heartfelt gratitude to everyone who supported that event, including those who bought tickets, donated prizes for the auction and raffle and made donations.
The night was made very special for Bianca by the performance of Dance Revolution, Clonmel and by the donation of a sweet cart by Sharon and James Fitzgerald, while Eric Wilson played some wonderful music and Cllr. Andy Moloney did a great job as MC.
“It has been a tough few months for Bianca’s parents, her brother and not least for little Bianca, who is an inspiration to us all”, says her grandmother Bernadette Doyle. “But the general public has made the load that bit lighter with the events that have been organised, and by offering a kind word and a listening ear. We can’t thank you enough for all your kindness.
We’d like to give a special mention to Majella Forte and Gillian Hewitt-Fitzgerald of the On Your Toes Dance Academy who held a special event at the Abymill Theatre in Fethard in Bianca’s honour, and who kept her space on the stage - we were very touched by this wonderful gesture. God willing Bianca will be back next year to regain her space”, said Bernadette.
The family is also grateful to R&B Custom Prints, Clonmel for providing the Team Bianca polo shirts for the fundraiser at The Clonmel Park Hotel; to Sureprint Clonmel who donated the tickets and posters; and also to O’Donoghue’s, Clonmel and Walsh’s in Fethard for providing transport.
“We’re also grateful to Paul and Paddy who travelled all the way from Mullingar to provide us with the disco music”, said Bernadette Doyle. “Every event needs a good team to organise it and what a team we had, headed by John Spike McCormack and Patsy McCormack who gave up their time to sell tickets, organise prizes and provide music. We are grateful for all their hard work and that of the rest of the team, which included Michael Guiry, Catherine McCormack, Jessica Doyle, Laura Doyle, Richard Doyle junior, Phyllis Gahan, Sylvia O’Brien and Anne Marie O’Brien”. The family is also indebted to The Park Hotel for providing the venue.
“Please continue to pray for Bianca, that she will make a full recovery and get back to being the happy little girl she always was”, Bernadette Doyle added.