AN inspiring Cork woman is making the most of life for her little boy before he eventually undergoes a transplant for a serious heart defect.
Lynsey McCaul said she was the proudest mum in the world to see her son, Cayden, start school following three open-heart surgeries.
The five-year-old boy is juggling medical appointments with attending St Joseph’s National School in Cobh.
He has been overcoming adversity since he was born with half a heart, otherwise known as hypoplastic right heart syndrome.
Five years on, Lynsey said she is experiencing every single emotion in the world as Cayden approaches the end of his second week in Junior Infants.
“I think I felt every single emotion after he first started school.
“After all Cayden has been through I couldn’t believe he was walking through those gates,” she added.
Lynsey, who is also a devoted mum to Nathan (9) and one-year-old Reya-Hope, is taking Cayden’s illness one day at a time.
“We don’t know when Cayden will go into heart failure,” she said.
“Nobody can tell what the future holds.
“However, I want other people to know that there is hope for parents.
“We give Cayden the best life we can give him. We never know what’s going on in his heart until the ECG tells us.
“Every time I go to Crumlin with Cayden for a check-up I’m afraid of what they’ll find but we can’t live our lives in fear.
“If we did that wouldn’t be a nice life for Cayden,” she said.
“He gets anxious and often asks if there will be needles.
All I can do is reassure him that it’s just a check-up.”
Walking out the door of Crumlin makes me realise how lucky we are because there are a lot of children who can’t leave the hospital.”
Despite her positive attitude, Lynsey admits there are still painful moments.
“He asked me if his heart will ever be better. The truth is his heart will never be fixed but at least it’s working.
“At the same time, I don’t want to scare him.”
The Cobh woman has always encouraged Cayden to love his scars.
“He’ll never be ashamed of his scars. When kids asked him about them he says he has a sick heart so the doctors opened him up.
“He’s getting older now so he should be able to talk about it.
“It’s part of who he is.”
She remarked on his strength adding: “If it was an adult they would be locked away crying all day but he is enjoying life.”
Cayden’s condition means he has to leave school early each day and is restricted to staying indoors at lunchtime.
“He doesn’t go out in the yard because it involves too much running but we always give him a choice,” she said.
The school has a beautiful sensory room he can spend lunchtime in and he has a wheelchair for if things get too much and he needs a rest,” she added.
Lynsey said that Cayden loves spending time with his dad, Aaron, and playing on his balance bike.
“We want Cayden to live his life.
“He could be stuck at home all day but we don’t want that kind of life for him.”
Cayden will feature in next year’s Heart Children Ireland calendar to mark their 30th anniversary.
In the first 25 years of their existence, the charity has raised more than €2.5 million for the Children’s Heart Centre at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
To find out more about the charity visit www.heartchildren.ie/about-us or call 01 8740990