On The Buses: ‘Doctors said I may never have children due to rare tumour’

On The Buses: ‘Doctors said I may never have children due to rare tumour’

On the 208, Oisin, Margaret and Chelsie Coffey, from Cobh, with Mary Madden, Silver Heights. Chelsie suffered from a rare form of brain tumour. Doctors said she might never have children but two years ago she learned she was expecting Oisin. Picture: Jim Coughlan

A YOUNG woman whose brain tumour was so rare it made the British Medical Journal was reminded of her battle on a recent trip to CUH with her injured mother.

Just a few years ago, Chelsie Coffey’s mother had been keeping vigil by her daughter’s bedside after she was diagnosed with a teratoma in her head — an extremely rare tumour made up of several different types of tissue, such as hair, muscle, teeth, or bone. 

Now, she was returning the favour by accompanying Margaret to hospital — on the 208 bus linking Cork city to Curraheen and CUH — with a suspected minor head injury.

“I reckon you’ll need three or four stitches,” she told her mum.

Nonetheless, Margaret was quick to point out this was mild in comparison to what her daughter had to face after a brain tumour diagnosis.

It was just two days after Christmas that the family realised there was something very wrong. “I went into the bathroom to be sick,” Chelsie explained. “Then all of a sudden I collapsed.”

Margaret knew she had to act fast before the ambulance arrived. “We knew a guy who lived around the corner who was with the Red Cross so we called on him to help,” she said. “To this day I’m convinced that he saved her life.”

Chelsie explained: “He was able to keep an eye on my airway, breathing and circulation until the ambulance arrived, making sure that I was in the right position.”

Margaret recalled the initial shock of learning her daughter had a brain tumour.

“When they told me that Chelsie had a tumour I thought it was all over. We were devastated. However, I knew the man above wouldn’t take her from me. She’s too strong-willed.”

Chelsie spent New Year’s Day undergoing brain surgery. Unfortunately, this was just the start of her battle.

“They cut from one side of my head to the other. I had to relearn how to walk and talk,” Chelsie said.

In spite of their frightening situation, Margaret refused to let Chelsie see her cry.

“I used to go visit Chelsie every day. In all the time I was with her I didn’t cry. I didn’t even cry on the way home. However, the minute I closed the door of the house behind me I would break down.”

Spending time in Dun Laoighaire helped Chelsie uncover her true passion in life.

“I was 16 — making me the oldest in the children’s ward in Dun Laoighaire,” Chelise said.

“I felt like a mother there because I was helping all the little ones do the things they weren’t able to do themselves. It made me realise how much I’d love to work with children with special needs.”

Nonetheless, the then 16-year old was relieved to be back in Cobh.

“My classmates in school raised money for me to come home,” she said. “Everyone was really kind.”

Seeing her case immortalised in the British Medical Journal made Chelsie realise how much she has overcome.

“I didn’t know what was going on at the time but I did make the British Medical Journal as what I had been going through was so rare. I haven’t seen the physical copy, but I can still remember shaking after reading it online.”

Her mother added: “We actually had a video of her getting the surgery done but it ended up getting lost so she has no real memory of what happened.”

Margaret is convinced that her daughter’s recovery was a miracle.

“My father was a great support to us. I also remember how the healer Donal Enright sent Padre’s Pio’s glove from the nursing home where he was staying for Chelsie to be blessed with. From that day on she started getting better. It just so happens that Donal Enright is buried near where my mother is. Chelsie is like me in that she is very strong-willed so we put a lot of her recovery down to that too.”

Almost two years ago the family received some happy news which Margaret described as another miracle.

“We had a lot of faith and prayed all the time. We recently celebrated Oisín’s birthday,” she said, referring to her grandson — Chelsie’s son — who was along for the trip. “Doctors told us that Chelsie might never get to be a mum because of the illness. We 100% thought that Chelsie wouldn’t be able to have kids,” she said. “We love Oisín. I would be absolutely lost without him. I’m very proud of Chelsie for all she has been through.”

Meanwhile, Sophie Rohrssen from Curraheen had a tongue in cheek confession.

Sophie Rohrssen, Curraheen Road, has pre-memorial cat tattoos.	Picture: Jim Coughlan
Sophie Rohrssen, Curraheen Road, has pre-memorial cat tattoos. Picture: Jim Coughlan

“I’m a real crazy cat lady,” she joked. “I have tattoos of my two cats who live in my family home. If anything ever happens to them I’ll have them so they’re kind of like pre- memorial tattoos. The rest of my arm is reserved for the rest of my cats so I’m hoping to get tattoos of them as well.”

Nicole Pino from Chilli arrived in Cork four months ago and has since fallen in love with Ireland.

Nicole Pino from Chile said she has fallen in love with Ireland since her recent move here. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Nicole Pino from Chile said she has fallen in love with Ireland since her recent move here. Picture: Jim Coughlan

“I love everything about the place, especially the security. You can walk down the street at night. Chile, on the other hand, is very dangerous.”

She assured us that Chile has its good points too.

“All the Earthquakes and tsunamis in the past brought the country together so the people are unified.”

Last to board the bus was Ann Coen from Mallow and her five-year-old grandson Noah Coen. 

Noah Coen, from Mallow, with his grandmother, Ann Coen, Model Farm Road.
Noah Coen, from Mallow, with his grandmother, Ann Coen, Model Farm Road.

“He’s come on holidays to my house. We’re going shopping today and will find somewhere else to go tomorrow.”

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