Making a difference
When Katie Byrne was just 15 years old she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - a very aggressive bone cancer. Ten years later, having gone through successful treatment at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Katie is now a fully qualified nurse working in Tullamore general hospital!
“My hope is to go on and become a paediatric nurse.” Katie said. She said spending time in Crumlin when she was sick ‘100% influenced’ her career choice. “I look back and (the nurses at Crumlin) made such a positive difference in my life. They showed me that you can make a massive difference by doing simple things for someone and that no act of kindness is ever a waste.”
From her initial diagnosis Katie underwent an intensive treatment which involved two rounds of chemotherapy, frequent physio appointments and surgery. These treatments were all done within a nine month period. “It really only started to hit me after my first chemo. I felt really awful, I was sick all the time. I was too weak to do anything, even staying awake was an effort. Everything was painful.”
Within a couple of weeks Katie began to lose her hair, “That was the worst part. It strips you of being a girl and being 15 years of age, but I have to say, being in Crumlin I never felt like I was alone, even though it’s a very isolating illness.”
Katie recalls how, when she was spending time on St. John’s ward, the nurses in Crumlin would regularly join her and other patients when they were watching the X-Factor and sometimes brought them popcorn. “It was always had a family feel, the nurses made it more comfortable. Moments like that meant everything to me when I was younger – bursts of happiness through tough times. When I had that type of wonderful care around me, the cancer sometimes took a back seat. It didn't strip me of my childhood. Sometimes I was so happy in Crumlin, I nearly forgot I was sick! The nurses and staff at Crumlin were amazing. I’ll never forget them. They inspired me to become a nurse myself!”
Katie made some lifelong friends from her time spent on St. John’s ward and she is regularly in contact with past patients who she shared a ward with. In 2009 Katie received the news that she was in complete remission, “It was absolutely brilliant to hear that, my parents were ecstatic, I was ecstatic. It was such an utter relief that I was going to get better and my hair would grow back! On my last visit to Crumlin all the nurses came down to say goodbye. They took photos with me, they were all waving me off. My hair had started to grow back, it was amazing, it was the best feeling ever!”
Through her connection with Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Katie has been involved in a number of fundraising table quizzes over the years and hopes to cycle from Sligo to Cork this summer to raise funds for CMRF Crumlin.