herald

Sunday 20 October 2019

'Help me buy bionic limb', pleads cancer survivor mum

Carol Haslam is struggling with her prosthetic limb after having part of her arm amputated to beat an aggressive form of cancer and be there to see her two children grow up. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Carol Haslam is struggling with her prosthetic limb after having part of her arm amputated to beat an aggressive form of cancer and be there to see her two children grow up. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

A Meath mum of two children with autism, who chose to have her arm amputated to stop cancer, is now trying to fundraise for a bionic limb so she can do things most people take for granted.

Carol Haslam (39) had to give up her florist business after 11 years and can't even brush her daughter's hair properly because of her prosthetic arm.

The Ratoath mum is also struggling with the needs of her youngest son, Daniel (12), who has been left blind by optical atrophy and is also losing his hearing.

Challenge

Two years ago, Carol was diagnosed with a synovial sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. After unsuccessful chemotherapy to shrink the tumour, she chose to have part of her arm amputated so he could see her children grow up.

Since then, she has struggled with simple daily tasks but she has the added challenge of trying to care for her two children, both of whom have autism.

After numerous appeals to the HSE, Carol said it had agreed to fund half of the €30,000 cost of the bionic arm if she comes up with the balance.

"The prosthetic hand has no practical use and has limited my ability to be fully independent. My husband Kevin is great but it's frustrating," she said.

"I can't sweep the floor properly. My friends bought me a chopping board with a peeler attached and if I lean on the board by my stump, I can peel a potato but it takes me ages.

"My hair has grown back now after the chemotherapy but I can't put it in a ponytail because I can't manage the bobbin.

"My 14-year-old daughter Niamh has autism and can't brush her thick hair. Because I can't hold it with one hand and brush with another."

The bionic limb won't reproduce feeling or reflex actions but it will give Carol 85pc of her mobility back.

"It has a pincer grip so I can put the key in the door, pick up coins or do my daughter's hair like a normal mam," she said.

Daniel stole hearts three years ago when the nation helped support his bucket list to see architectural sights worldwide before he lost his sight.

"Daniel was diagnosed with optical atrophy three years ago and the nation very kindly helped us to bring him to places of architectural interest before he lost his sight," added Carol.

"His sight has deteriorated a lot faster than we thought and now, just three years in and he's already legally blind so we don't know what the future holds."

Drivers

Carol has had to pay for adjustments herself to be able to drive her car, as the State will fund car modifications for drivers who lose one leg, two legs or two arms - but not one arm.

Now she's determined to take on yet another battle.

"I recently reached a very important milestone when I was two years cancer-free," she said.

"I am ready to move on to the next stage of my life and I am determined to get my independence back. But for that, I need a new arm and, in the absence of full State support, I need to raise €15,000 toward the price."

Anyone who would like to donate can do so at: gofundme.com/f/bionic-arm-for-carol?rcid=r01-156836610954-d731c6a023614cea&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_m.

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