AISLINN Loughran was just two weeks into nursery school when it was discovered she had a brain tumour.
At the age of three and half the brave Lurgan girl underwent five operations lasting a total of 25 hours. During her time in hospital she also battled MRSA.
Not long after returning from hospital Aislinn was dealt another blow with the death of her father, who had a history of illness including several brain tumours.
Now nine, Aislinn, has been given a Little Star Award in acknowledgement of her bravery. There was more good news for the Lurgan girl when she became an auntie last month.
Aislinn’s mum Geraldine told the ‘MAIL’: “Aislinn was three and a half when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She had been at Lurgan Model Nursery School for two weeks when the discovery was made.
“She fell in a friend’s garden. I thought she’d got concussion as she was feeling sick and dizzy.
“I took her to Craigavon Hospital. They took blood tests and said we’ll take it from there. They sent her home.
“I had made an appointment with my GP because I’d seen the signs and symptoms before with her daddy and was beginning to suspect it could be something more serious. Since she’d fallen at the party she’d been feeling sick, was complaining of a sore head and couldn’t walk in a straight line.
“I explained to the GP that Aislinn was demonstrating the same symptoms as her daddy had.”
Aislinn’s father Andrew had a history of health problems included several brain tumours. He was six and a half when he had his first tumour removed.
Geraldine said: “She was referred to a consultant who organised a scan straight away. At first the lump was identified as a cyst which was attached to the brain stem and she was sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital. Further scans revealed there to be a brain tumour as well as the cyst. The next day both were successfully removed.
“We didn’t find out until two weeks later that it was malignant. They’d been concerned about the cyst because it was attached to the brain stem, but it had just come away when they’d removed the tumour.
“Her daddy had a tumour removed two weeks after her. Both the tumours were sent to Canada to be researched as her daddy was only the fourth person to have this type of gene. That was in 2008 but we haven’t heard anything back about the tumours or whether Aislinn has the same rare gene as her dad.
“Her daddy had been diagnosed before her but because they knew his tumour was benign there wasn’t as much of a rush to remove it.”
There was to be a further set back during Aislinn’s treatment. Geraldine explained: “In the middle of her treatment Aislinn got MRSA. Her blood and platelets started dropping lower than expected and they found she had MRSA. It took four more operations to remove it. It turned out the MRSA was in a piece of bone flap removed during surgery then replaced.”
Aislinn had five operations between September 2007 and January 2008. The first was nine hours followed by four four-hour operations. Up until May she was getting intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.
The young cancer survivor was dealt another blow when her father died in September 2008.
He mum said: “Aislinn has been through an awful lot and she has a youth support worker who comes to talk with her every week. Because she missed a large part of her childhood she’s catching up and experiencing emotions you’d normally get when you’re three or four.”
At her school, Lurgan Model, Aislinn has a classroom assistant who looks after her full-time.
“She’s nine but it terms of reading and spelling her would be around five or six,” said her mum.
“She’s on growth and hormone treatment. She’s lost her high level hearing due to radiotherapy. She has no pain threshold and is very susceptible to minor illnesses.”
But despite her setbacks the Lurgan girl lives life to the full. She loves dancing and reading and is a big fan of One Direction and Dora The Explorer.
She received her Little Star Award just before Christmas after being nominated by her brothers and sisters - Eamon (14), Roisin (14), Ciara (18) and Sarah (20).
The Little Star Award was established by Cancer Research NI to recognise the courage of children with cancer.
Sunday is a big day for the family when the newest arrival - Aaliyah-Rose (daughter of Sarah) is Christened at St Paul’s. Aislinn is over the moon to not only have a new niece, but also a new playmate.
Before the Christening, Aislinn will join her mother for a fundraising walk in Lurgan Park on Saturday in aid of the Northern Ireland Children’s Cancer Fund. It’s £5 to take part for anyone who hasn’t already got a sponsor form and the walkers will be meeting at the gate lodge at 10am.
Geraldine said: “Aislinn loves being able to raise money so that anyone else in her position will be given the same treatment she was.”