A seven-year-old boy spent who spent his holiday undergoing brain surgery had one worry – that he would miss school.
Brave Sean Mulcrone, from Hertfordshire, had been undergoing treatment this summer following a devastating brain tumour diagnosis.
He had started to complain of headaches and, when he was younger, Sean had a corrective procedure for a squint.
However, earlier this year his mum, Colette Quinlivan, noticed that the squint seemed to be coming back, HertsLive reported.
Sean was diagnosed with a brain tumour that was “basically squashing his brain against the skull” and if it wasn’t discovered he could have died.
Colette, 41, said: “Sean is a very good big brother. He’s been schooling his sister by the end of the summer. He enjoys school.
That’s why I knew these headaches weren’t made up. It wasn’t like he was trying to not go to school.”
The family GP referred Sean to the ophthalmology team at Edgware Community Hospital, which is part of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
She admitted: “She wasn’t very worried but Sean had a couple of headaches, not many at that point, just a couple, so she sent him for an MRI just to be on the safe side.
“Also, she had said to me, just monitor when these headaches are. If they’re in the morning, that’s going to be a bit more of a worry.
“Now, sooner as she said that, and I realised they were in the morning when he woke up.
“I couldn’t rest easy after that. I was making sure I was chasing up the MRI and making sure things were progressing”.
Not long after, on July 11, Sean and his mum found out about the brain tumour.
She said: “On July 11 we found out that it was a tumour, there was a mass at the back of his brain and from then he had to stay in the hospital until his operations.
“Once they knew it was there, he had to have observations every two hours. His operation was on July 18. So, we were just sort of waiting a couple of days.
“That was Monday and then he was home on Thursday. My friend was in hospital longer after the C-section and he had brain surgery – children can be very resilient.
“And then we were just waiting another week for the results of the biopsy, just to make sure it was benign. It wasn’t cancerous, so he doesn’t need any like radio or chemo. “
Sean’s mum added: “Sean was brave all the time. During blood tests, the MRI or while doctors checked his spine for just around an hour and it was a bit claustrophobic, he was brave.
“When he found out about the operation Sean said ‘Oh good, now the doctors know what’s the problem.
“Then they can fix it.’ You know, children of that age, always have faith in doctors.”
On the other hand, his mom describes it as the worst experience she had to deal with as a parent.
She added: “I thought that I had prepared myself a bit, I was not worried until the person said about his optic nerve and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a bit weird’.
“But I wasn’t prepared, it was terrible. That’s why, when he was fine, I felt so lucky. It was terrible while we were in it, but it was a short journey.
“And I know that isn’t the case for every child with a brain tumour. Many need more research and they need another treatment, so that can recover as well.
“It was like beyond like anything any parent can imagine for just a short time.”
Sean’s biggest concern was the fact that he would miss school. In fact, he only missed one day at school, before the diagnosis when the headache was unbearable and he cried for the first time.
“The worst thing he was upset about is he was going missed the end of the school, he just didn’t want to miss his friends”, his mum said.
“The way his school is there’s an infant school and a junior school. They’re separate. And he is going up to junior school now.
“So he missed like little leaves show and a leavers party but I recorded him telling jokes in the hospital and then, they put them on the interactive whiteboard so that he could still be a part of it the leavers show.”
Over a month after the surgery, now Sean can start playing football again and go back to school.
His mum said he’s almost back to normal but is just “sensitive about his scar”.
She said: “He’s just getting on with things like it never happened really. He’s kind of just looking after that part of his head, but that’s appropriate because the doctor did say it takes about three months for the bone to grow back.”
To show how grateful he is, Sean and his mum came up with 18 challenges.
They’re raising money for the two NHS charities that support the hospitals that cared for him: Royal Free Charity (the NHS charity of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust which includes Barnet Hospital) and Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity.
To make it more fun, the challenges include things and activities Sean loves doing.
Some of the challenges included: trying 18 different types of fruit and vegetables, reading 18 books, scoring 18 goals against mummy or visiting 18 new places.
Colette said: “His favourite was 18 minutes of football. That was very easy for us to complete, has done a lot more than that.
“Also, he supports Manchester United, he loves Marcus Rashford, but his second team is Watford. That’s why our 18th new place to discover was the stadium.
“It was an exciting match and it was his first time going to that, unfortunately, they lost.”
Now Sean needs to have regular checks every six months. Sean’s mum said: “The doctors are pretty confident.
“They’ve got all of it out, so that makes it even less likely to grow back. But he needs to have scans just every six months.
“I think after some few years, like maybe it’s eight years or something if it hasn’t grown back, then they will just sign him off because if it hasn’t grown back by then it probably won’t.”