Several months ago, I had the honor of doing an article for an online parenting magazine about a little girl named Saoirse and her mother Kezia. Saoirse was just a year old and was her mother and fathers pride and joy. Saoirse and her mother shared the bond of mother and child, but they shared something more – they both had cancer; little Saoirse was diagnosed with neuroblastoma just months after her mother Kezia was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Saoirse was at a stage 4 in her disease, while her mother reached a stage 3.
Saoirse’s cancer affected her nervous system as well as functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and digestion. Even though the disease wracked her body from the tender age at which she was diagnosed (long before her first birthday) I remember seeing pictures of her cuddling with her parents and playing with the family dog.
Saoirse lost her hard-fought battle with cancer on Tuesday according to CNN.
"This robbed me of my daughter," her father, Mike Fitzgerald said. "It'll never take away anything she stood for."
Saoirse endured aggressive treatments and just when it seemed as though she might actually win her fight, the cancer returned with a vengeance.
The little girl suffered through eight rounds of chemotherapy – many of the rounds would last for days. She had surgery that removed her adrenal glands and yet through it all her smiled and greeted the nurses and hospital workers each time she was brought there. She loved to high-five everyone.
The last report came in November declaring that the cancer had now moved to inside her skull and not one week later it over took her liver.
Her last days were filled with labored breathing and the fear of going to sleep. Doctors decided to help her breathing by inserting a breathing tube. She looked to her parents for strength even though her eyes were nearly swollen shut.
At 6:47 a.m. Tuesday, Saoirse died.
Her parents will hold her memorial service on Saturday and as a way to celebrate the very brief life of a very brave little girl, guests at the service are prohibited from wearing black.