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Siblings who both battled cancer before the age of 13

TWO Dublin siblings shocked doctors after both being diagnosed with cancer before their 13th birthdays.

Two siblings suffering from the same cancer is considered rare in medical circles -- so when brother and sister Ian and Orlaith Hanrahan were both diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, doctors were shocked.

From a family of four, Ian and Orlaith bravely battled cancer within four years of one another.

"Our parents were immediately tested to see if it was genetic," said Ian (21).

"We had gas readings done in the house, too, to check if it was the environment we were living in, but it turns out we just unlucky."

At the age of 11 in 2001, the schoolboy's life changed after a trip to the doctor led to him finding out he was ill.

"We caught it very early, so I was lucky," he told the Herald.

"I remember I had ripped stitches out of my hand, and the doctor was checking my glands. There was a lump on my neck, but I had no pain, so I was sent to Crumlin and had to undergo months of radiotherapy."

Ian -- who is now in his third year studying Bio Analysis at IT Tallaght -- said that his case was very different from his sister's.

"I got off fairly lightly with it to be honest, for me it was very treatable."



CONFIDENCE

Devastatingly for the Hanrahan family, younger Orlaith was diagnosed with a more severe case of Hodgkin's in 2005.

With many more lumps covering her neck and chest, she was put through nine months of intensive chemotherapy -- resulting in hair loss, sensitive skin and discoloured fingernails.

"Ian is an inspiration to me, he helped me deal with everything, and gave me confidence," 18-year-old Orlaith insists. The pair admit to being comrades-in-arms and enjoy a special bond as a result of their shared experience.

"I'd be quite protective of her, we're very close," Ian said.

"People treat you differently when you've had cancer -- so it helped that we could relate to each other."

Having triumphed over the disease -- and recovered from the untimely loss of their father in 2007 -- Ian and Orlaith are now hoping to enter the medical profession, to give back to those who aided them. Ian hopes to become a paramedic, while Orlaith is studying to be a paediatric nurse.

Theirs is one of many stories of 27 unique CanTeen members -- an Irish organisation empowering and bringing together young cancer patients.

Their book entitled Bad Times, Good Times, Teenage Cancer, Our Story is out now.