On Saturday 2nd September 2006 our lives changed forever after a normal fun family day out. Molly was 3 years old (soon to be 4) and up until then had not shown any obvious signs of illness. She fell over at the end of the day just before we were due to return home. The fall was really nothing major but Molly became increasingly uncomfortable and ended up the next day at our local A&E. A day later she had an ultrasound scan and a tumour was detected in her left kidney. The paediatrician believed it to be a rare type of kidney cancer called a Wilms’ tumour and Molly was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital that evening.
Two weeks of tests and scans confirmed the diagnosis and Molly immediately began a course of chemotherapy and a couple of weeks later underwent an operation to remove the affected kidney. We were all in a state of shock as we entered a completely unfamiliar world. You hear those awful stories, but it’s always other people, you never think that it will happen in your family. The first course of treatment lasted approximately 6 months. Everyone at Birmingham Children’s Hospital was fantastic and helped us come to terms with it all. So from early 2007 we hoped that would be it, we could put it all behind us as Molly’s cancer was supposed to be one of the most treatable and luckily we had caught it early.
We returned to a new kind of normality (your perspective on life certainly changes) but 18 months later in July 2008 the cancer came back. This time treatment stepped up a gear. Once again Molly had a Hickman line inserted and so began a year long course of chemotherapy along with a short period of radiotherapy and an operation to remove the tumour that was on her bowel. When you have a child undergoing such intensive treatment the impact on the whole of the family and those around is huge.
Molly also has a brother Ben who was then 7 and sister, Maeve who was 5. We were constantly divided due to either my husband or I being in hospital with Molly whilst the other one remained with Ben and Maeve . Our lives revolved around treatments, hospital visits and limiting ourselves to activities that would not compromise Molly’s weakened immune system.
The second time around Molly struggled with the treatment. She hated the sensation when the chemotherapy was put through her central line, the sickness it caused and tedious nature of going back and forth to Birmingham all the time. However with the help of a play specialist and the other health professionals Molly gradually realised the importance of allowing the doctors to help her. From that point on (age 6) Molly grew up beyond her tender years and faced her illness head on. She went to school as much as she could and developed her own strategies of coping with it all. At the end of 2008 she joined the CLIC Sargent Youth Advisory Group who met quarterly with the aim of improving the lives of kids with cancer. In early 2010 she took part in a short animated film made as a guide to radiotherapy for children. Molly narrated the film. She stopped wearing her wigs all the time and walked tall, always with a big smile.
Another 8 month gap followed of no treatment and the hope of a fresh start until May 2010 when a tumour appeared on Molly’s liver. It was at that point that although we never gave up hope of a miracle we knew Molly’s cancer was very aggressive and options were running out. So despite a further operation, heavy duty chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant a 4th tumour appeared in March 2011.
Molly was a bright child. She understood the seriousness of her illness and we were always honest with her but to tell her and her siblings that she was going to die was truly heart-breaking.
We had two and a half months. Molly died at home in our arms on 15th June 2011.
Molly had an amazing spirit and such determination through it all. The impact that she made in her short 8 years astounded us. To witness how she touched the lives of friends and strangers alike and how she inspired so many good acts led us to start this charity and continue her good work.
Thank you for helping us to keep Molly’s spirit alive and help other children with life-threatening illnesses. Molly liked to shorten her own name from Molly Ollerenshaw to Molly Olly hence Molly Olly’s Wishes! We were very privileged to have a fund donated by family and friends to support us through those dark days and provide Molly with fantastic care and to help to make those dark days brighter. Please help us to help other children like Molly. It really does make a difference.