Bringing home their new baby Gerard and Stacey Melaugh were filled joy.
But that joy and laughter was shattered in just 10 weeks when their first child, a little boy who, “loves life” was diagnosed with stage four cancer - a high risk neuroblastoma.
New parenthood is filled with the unknown and worry but the young couple’s lives in the safe world of the quiet and picturesque area of the Finn Valley in Donegal, took a heart-breaking sad twist.
Caolan, who is now two-years-old, endured a very tough 15 months which included chemotherapy, surgery, stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and six months of immunotherapy.
All of his treatment has been carried out by a great team of doctors and nurses at Our Lady's Children Hospital Dublin with the unwavering help and love of his Mum Stacey, 28, and Dad Gerard, 33, who is a corporal in the Irish Defence Force in Finner Camp.
Stacey, who previously worked in retail, has not been working since Caolan was diagnosed.
Stacey, Caolan’s adoring Mum explained, ”In June last year we got the news that Caolan's scans were all clear and we were absolutely over the moon. But little did we know what was going to happen a few short months later.
“We had initially fundraised to get Caolan onto a preventative trial in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. He started this trial on July 1st, less than a month later.
“On a routine trip there in September 2016, Caolan took a seizure and after further tests it showed he had relapsed, the cancer was now affecting his brain.
This led to two lifesaving brain surgeries there.
“It broke my heart getting this news. I was at home ready to give birth to our second son who has thankfully entered the world safely and is now five-months-old.
“Being so far away, not being able to help Caolan was really difficult. I was so far away from him and waiting for the birth of our second son which was adding so much to how difficult the situation was.
“The happiness of having another baby was being affected by what Caolan was going through. His life was and is so fragile but he is a fighter as are all of us. He has amazed everyone with how much he has clung to life and how he has battle through so much. He really does light up our lives.
“We were absolutely devastated with the last news. As a Mother it breaks my heart to see my baby sick, so see him so much in need and to know that sometimes I cannot help.
Caolan spent two weeks in the US with most of that time being spent in Intensive Care. Gerard my husband and Zoe my sister stayed in the US with Caolan while he was treated, I was devastated that UI couldn’t be there, I gave birth to a healthy little boy and we have named him Eoghan.
The outstanding bill from that treatment was more than E200,000. The family were so grateful to everyone who supported them through all of their various fundraisers.
An emotional Stacey added: “We actually managed to gather a large portion of the money for the bill. But now we are facing the uphill mountain, like so many other sick children in this country are, of having to go to the US for treatment.
“We actually don’t have any money left and that is the truth. Money helps to buy lives and that unfortunately is the reality. Caolan has just completed chemotherapy in Crumlin, however this is the only treatment they have to offer here which will sadly not be enough. We don’t want to loose our beautiful boy!
He is an adoring, kind and gently older brother to Eoghan, he absolutely adores his little baby brother.
Relapse Neuroblastoma has no known cure and there is a 10% survival rate, so the family are being forced to seek further treatment outside of Ireland, “to give Caolan the best chance at life that every little child deserves.
“We know that so many other very sick children and teenagers are pleading for treatment funds and we do realise that people can only do so much. But all Caolan knows in his short life is ill health. He hasn’t gotten the chance to live the normal life of a boy his age.
“The only way we can do this is to ask people to support us by fundraising, we just cannot do it alone. The odds are stacked against him but he is so strong and nothing holds him back. He is a normal fun loving little boy, he is learning every day, he loves life.
“We are awaiting results from a full set of work up of scans just completed in Crumlin, from there we hope to be in a position to seek the best possible treatment for little Caolan. Time is running out and we need to act fast, so please help us in any way you can we would be so, so, so, so, grateful.
“If you would like to support Caolan log onto:
If anyone would like to organise an event to help raise much needed funds then please contact Gerard on 00353 86 8077819.
IT Manager | Quality Enterprise Solutions
T: +353 (0)1 772 0500 | M: +353 (0)86 807 7819
Group Technology Services, Burlington Road, Dublin 4