A four-year-old Cork boy has celebrated beating cancer by meeting his Munster rugby heroes and starting his first day of school.
“Tom Tom” Cahill gave the thumbs up today after joining older siblings Jack (10) and Charlie (7) at Saleens National School, Midleton, for his first full day as a Junior Infants pupil.
Tom Tom had an “awesome” tale to tell at storytime, after receiving a superheroes' welcome inside the Munster rugby dressing room at Musgrave Park last Friday night.
Tough Tom Tom gave a pre-match talk to the home team and high-fived each player as they ran out of the tunnel and onto the pitch, before he took his VIP seat to watch the game.
After their seven-try demolition of London Irish, the Munster charges joined Tom Tom in a rousing rendition of Munster’s anthem ‘Stand Up and Fight”, rounding off a thrilling evening for Tom Tom, organised by the Share A Dream Foundation and Munster Rugby.
“The whole family got into the dressing room after the match and all of the team couldn’t have been nicer. They performed Stand up and Fight with Tom Tom; it was absolutely awesome,” explained his mother Paula Cahill.
There was a great buzz and atmosphere. My husband Thomas and his brother Tony and our other two children, Jack and Charlie, were also there. They’re all sports mad, and the team gave them all of their time.
“It was definitely a wish come true.”
Tom Tom joked “my head is wrecked” when his mother asked him how he fared on his first full day of school after all the excitement of a dream weekend.
Despite losing a lung and a kidney after he was diagnosed with cancerous tumours, Tom Tom continues to “smile everyday”.
“He’s an outstanding kid and we are blessed everyday he is with us,” his mother said.
Tom Tom had his final chemotherapy treatment in August 2017, and is now in “a very good place, thank God”, she added.
It’s been a long road to recovery, however, for the little Munster man, who continues to visit his oncologist every few months for regular check-ups.
He was first diagnosed with a tumour “the size of a grapefruit on his left kidney” aged 14 months.
After undergoing chemotherapy, and surgery, the tumour was found to have been benign. However, the following November cancer was found in his lungs.
“Unfortunately it came back with a vengeance in November 2016. They found a tumour in his left lung and it was pushing over his windpipe. He was breathing in only 30% air in his lung. He was in a very critical condition, it was touch and go. There were nights we didn't know what the morning would bring,” said Paula.
Tom Tom spent his second birthday in Crumlin Children’s hospital, he was skeletal, in pain, and he hadn’t walked in weeks.
There was further chemotherapy as well as life-saving surgery in July 2017, when doctors removed part of his left lung, a part of his diaphragm, as well as a section of his right lung.
“During all this time he was pricked like a pin cushion. He had bloods taken from nearly every vein in his hands and even at one stage from his ankle, but being the little superhero he is he always pulled through. I look at Tom Tom sometimes, particularly when I see his little scarred body, and it just amazes me what he has gone through, and he still wakes up every morning with a song and a smile,” Paual added.
Last year Tom Tom received a National Children of Courage Award and outlined his dream to meet the Munster rugby team.
His mother thanked the Share A Dream Foundation and Munster Rugby for treating her family like “rockstars”.
Tom Tom is looking forward to many more days watching the exploits of his beloved Munster, as well as his favourite player, albeit a Leinster legend, Johnny Sexton.
“He could have turned in on himself but he’s a bundle of energy. He just gets on with life,” Paula said.
Share A Dream is funded entirely through donations. To make a donation visit www.shareadream.ie.