Gardai and coast guard drive-bys lift brave youngster who has endured torrid year after rare brain tumor diagnosis
THE efforts of an O’Briensbridge woman and the co-operation of local emergency services have given a welcome boost to a nine year-old boy battling a rare form of brain cancer.
Tracy Howard has organised a series of fundraising ventures and drive-bys to show the huge support in the twin communities of Killaloe and Ballina for Joey Moran, who lives in the neighbouring village of Portroe.
A GoFundMe page “Joey Moran’s journey with a rare brain tumour” has thus far raised €20,845.
The brave young lad, described as a “warrior” and an “absolute legend” by parents Emma and Alan, has had to endure a number of serious surgeries as well as the very draining subsequent chemotheraphy and radiation treatments.
One year ago the world changed for the Moran family. On September 18, 2020, Emma recalled Joey came out to the kitchen and struggled to open a bottle to have a drink before his face dropped on one side.
While Joey was vomiting and complaining of a headache for a few days, she thought it was a normal bug he had picked up after returning to school.
But this time Joey went into a spaced-out state, was unresponsive for a few minutes until he came around. When Emma rang 999 she was asked questions concerning a possible stroke.
Joey was vomiting when the ambulance arrived, and required medication to stop him from vomiting during a stop on the way to University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
“On arrival to the Emergency Department everything moved so fast. Blood checks were done while Joey still couldn’t speak correctly and was spacing out. Joey was sent for a CT scan, I remember my heart was in my throat and a wave of panic rushed through my body.
“Joey returned to his cubicle, and after 20 minutes a doctor said Joey needed another CT scan.
“I was told Joey is going to be transferred to Temple Street as has he has a massive swelling on the brain with what looks like a mass on the left side of his brain.
“I rang Alan and my parents. Joey was removed from Limerick hospital within 40 minutes by ambulance for emergency surgery in Temple Street.
“I can’t remember the journey to Dublin, but on entering Temple Street, I said goodbye to Joey, and I was left at the entrance on my own at 12.05pm while my baby boy was left in the hands of the hospital.”
Joey had a left temporo-Carniectomy first surgery the following day on September 19.
After his first surgery, Alan and Emma, were informed their son had a high grade Glioma (PXA) Anaplastic pleomorphic Xanthoastrocytoma, on the left anterior parietal region.
Joey’s second surgery on September 30, involved a near total tumour resection and cranioplasty with synthetic bone flap. This has left Joey with a slight weakness to the right side of his body.
He completed radiation therapy for the maximum course of 30 sessions and chemotherapy for 42 days.
During his treatment, Joey began to show the symptoms that he first presented with, and an MRI in Crumlin Hospital showed the tumour had began to regrow.
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy was continued in his own best interest so the cancer cells wouldn’t build up a defence against the treatment.
Last January, Joey started his chemotherapy cycles again. He gets his chemotherapy treatment at home in tablet form over a seven-day period.
This treatment is given six weeks to work before he gets another week of tablets during a seven-week cycle.
The nine-year-old is also taking medication to prevent a repeat of some mini seizures that previously required hospital stays as well as antibiotics at weekends to prevent a chest infection.
He meets two doctors in Crumlin Hospital, Dublin every six weeks before he starts his next chemotherapy session.
Joey had three surgeries to remove the brain tumour in Temple Street Hospital.
Another surgery was needed to provide a shunt to drain away fluid before an emergency operation took out a bone in the side of his head that had become infected.
It is expected that this bone will not be replaced until next summer as doctors want Joey to finish his chemotherapy treatment.
Alan and Emma have two other children Alan (15) and Kellyann (3).
Emma has described Joey is an “absolute legend” and “warrior” who refuses to back down.
She stated Joey has defied the odds by not ending up fully dependent on a wheelchair, his speech and memory are a little bit affected, but he is better than anyone expected after a roller coaster of a year.
“Joey doesn’t want to back down. He keeps pushing himself to get better. He doesn’t want to use his wheelchair unless he really has to a lot of walking in a long journey. He uses his wheelchair when his platelets are low.
“The power has gone in his right hand at the moment. Doctors are not sure if this is from the surgery or his platelets.
“He is doing amazingly well. There are very few times he has a cry and says ‘why is this happening to me’.
“It usually happens when he gets sick from his medicine. He takes all the surgery and treatment in his stride. He will not sit back and moan.”
Joey is in Third Class in Newtown National School where he attends for a few hours in the morning when he isn’t very sick.
He hasn’t been well enough to attend school recently, but it is hoped he will be able to return after Christmas.
Emma really appreciates the efforts people in Killaloe and Ballina have made to support Joey on his road to recovery.
She said Killaloe Gardai and Coastguard completed the drive-by as they are really proud of the courage and resilience Joey has shown during his treatment.
“Killaloe Gardai and Killaloe Coastguard wanted to show they are looking out for Joey and are there to help him if he needs them.
“Joey got a huge surprise. He didn’t know anything about it. He was told to put on a jacket and go outside. When he saw the gardai and the coastguard his whole face just lit up. He really enjoyed all the sirens and lights that were going on. He needed a boost at the time.”
Joey received a garda hat and a garda bravery certificate before he got a spin in a garda patrol car with the help of Inspector Michaela Moloney, Gardai Michael Ryan and Sergeant Shane Ryan.
He was also visited by Killaloe Coastguard volunteers Jamie O’Sullivan and David Tighe.
A few days later, bikers – Ray Ryan, Declan Walsh, Pat Cox, Colm O’Dowd, Sean Wallace, Mike Devanney, and organiser, Joe Tuite from the Western Wings Club gave Joey a huge lift when they arrived at his house.
This group brought one three-wheel bike, which was big enough to give Joey a trip around the locality.
The entourage included people with banners and bunting from the Owl and Pussycat After School Club, Ballina, parents and staff from Joey’s previous pre-school – Ladybirds Pre-school and Childcare Centre, and Newtown National School.
Tracy admitted the events would not have happened for Joey if Terry Spaight from Portroe hadn’t nominated him for an Easter hamper draw.
She said members of Killaloe Coastguard and Killaloe Gardaí couldn’t do enough for Joey in terms of the time they gave him on the day.
Tracy recalled when the group of bikers came into view, Joey was numb with shock.
“His face said it all. Joey deserves everything he has got. When you meet his parents, Emma and Alan, it is easy to see why he is such a lovely kid.
“The term superhero wouldn’t come near Joey. He is a warrior. He has gone through so much, but he still gets on with it. I don’t think an adult can do what he is doing.
“The minute I saw Joey he entered my heart and now he is there to stay. My own father had a brain tumour so I could connect with the ups and downs Emma was experiencing.”
Tracy got great support from businesses in Killaloe and Ballina when she sought prizes for a huge hamper worth more than €600.
Last June, Joey was very excited when he was given the task of picking the winning ticket out of a hat in Boruma Bar, Ballina.
Tracey would love if some accommodation provider would offer Emma’s parents, Nancy and Mal a free overnight stay in view of the huge support they have provided by looking after Joey’s siblings Alan and Kellyann.
Joey likes playing video games on his x-box as well as helping his father clean his motorbike.
Before he lost power in right hand, Joey enjoying travelling on his quad bike in a local forest.
People can still contribute at https://www.gofundme.com/f/joey-morans-journey-with-a-rare-brain-tumour
by Dan Danaher