Seamus, Colm's father, shares his son's story
Colm, a keen footballer and passionate supporter of Manchester United from Donabate, Co. Dublin, was diagnosed two months before his 18th birthday with Ewing sarcoma in March 2010.
It all began with a pain in his groin in 2009 which he didn't mention for ages, as he thought it might be a football injury picked up while playing for St Ita's U-17s; his local football team. Eventually he told the physio who did some work on it but that offered little relief. As Colm was about to sit his Leaving Certificate exams (A Level equivalent), he thought together with his mother Anne and I that he should concentrate on his exams and the injury would heal in time.
It was still bothering him over the summer, but he never complained. After Christmas, while he was studying at The Institute of Education in Leeson Street, Dublin a swelling developed which needed constant pain relief. Then Colm started to limp and in March 2010, he saw a GP, who sent him to the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry for a CT scan and made an appointment for him to see an orthopaedic consultant. Colm then underwent a biopsy at the Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital in Dublin and Ewing's sarcoma was diagnosed. We were so shocked and devastated when we heard the word cancer. We were then informed that surgery was not possible, so Colm would commence a regime of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy.
Colm commenced treatment on May 10th 2010, which meant he celebrated his 18th birthday party, just 7 days earlier on the bank holiday Monday, May 3rd, in Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. His friends made the day as special as they could for him, and were a huge means of support. They were fantastic and really kept his spirits up throughout. The treatment seemed to be going well and Colm had seven weeks of radiotherapy on the pelvis in December and January. At that stage the treatment had reduced the disease in the lungs significantly and now the concentration was on the pelvis.
Colm was a huge fan of the Irish alternative rock band from Dublin, 'The Script'. His brother David appeared on the Friday night chat show 'The Late Late Show' in December 2010 after winning a gold medal as part of the Irish under 23 winning team at the Spar European cross-country championship in Albufeira, Portugal. Colm got to meet with the band who were also guests. In fact, lead singer Danny rang Colm in July 2011 after their Aviva gig. Danny said to Colm to have 'Faith and Hope'. Colm got invited with back stage passes to their next gig but sadly it was not to be.' Some of his friends have since got the logo 'Faith & Hope' tattooed as a symbol of their love for Colm.
Another highlight for Colm was when we went to see Manchester Utd V Liverpool FA Cup match in Old Trafford on January 9th 2011. By February 2011 Colm felt pain in his chest when there was a cough which indicated that the disease was back in the lungs. Over the next few months, Colm had continuous constipation problems and became weaker. In May 2011, Colm would get pain in his left lower back which went away with treatment. By June 25th 2011 after a blood transfusion and chemotherapy it became apparent that Colm had suffered a significant loss of weight. He had a subsequent PET scan and the results showed that the treatment was not working. On the 28th June we were told that treatment would stop to concentrate on a quality of life...
At this stage Colm had developed breathing problems. Only two days after coming home, Colm was getting very distressed and needed an inhaler. He was rushed back in to hospital on Friday 1st July. Over the weekend his condition worsened and he required oxygen. On the following Monday at 12o'clock I was called in to be told that Colm did not have much time left and that there was a bed in St. Francis' Hospice, Raheny. Colm was admitted to the hospice on Wednesday 6th July 2011 and sadly lost his battle with the cancer on Tuesday July 12th. To pay tribute to Colm, his friends formed a guard of honour dressed in Manchester Utd shirts with 'Rooney 92' (his year of birth) on the back on the evening before his funeral on July 15th.
We would love to see more education and awareness of primary bone cancer. Even though we came to understand how rare Ewing sarcoma is - there are only about eight cases a year in the Republic of Ireland - Ross Nugent, another teenager from Dublin who was a student of Malahide Community School, died in May 2010. Ross and Colm are buried next to each other in Donabate yet they had never met.
Colm's mother Anne died tragically in December 2011 a few months after her son.