Garron is a kind, lively boy from Ballymena who loves cars.
His whole family’s world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, after his mum, Ruth, found a massive lump in his neck.
Ruth said, “We took him to the general practitioner – initially, they thought it was an infection in his lymph nodes and put him on an antibiotic drip. Then, they did loads of scans, but couldn’t find anything so they were going to send us home.
But the lump was 4cm by 5cm and Garron was starting to put his head to one side so I insisted, if only for cosmetic reasons, that they do something about it.
We were referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist and were told Garron would need a biopsy. They thought it might be tuberculosis, the type that comes from sand and clay, and we were in the middle of building our house, so that made sense.”
“But the results of the biopsy were serious. When you go into a room and there are six people there waiting to speak to you, you just know it’s bad news."
Garron’s mum Ruth told her local newspaper, “I can’t even begin to explain how it feels to be told your child has cancer. Garron’s diagnosis turned our lives upside down and our first thoughts were that we were going to lose him.”
“The consultant said to pack a bag for a month and within a matter of four hours – our whole lives changed.
I didn’t even know there was a children’s hospital in Belfast, but we went straight to the Royal Hospital. Further tests showed it was acute lymphoblastic leukemia and it was at the toughest stage, Stage C.
When Garron became ill, we put the notion of having any more babies out of our heads, but I then found out I had conceived naturally. However, at my 20-week scan, I was told that my daughter had a complex heart condition and she would need surgery.
Peggy was born on 9 December and she went to London for open-heart surgery on 21 December. She died on 23 December.
We were all devastated and after everything Garron was going through, he’d lost his baby sister too.”
The holiday of a lifetime
One thing that helped Garron and his family come to terms with their ordeal was when the hospital staff told them about applying for a wish with Make-A-Wish.
Garron's wish became a truly magical reality – it was arranged for him to go to the Monaco Boat Show! Yacht brokers Burgess and the helicopter company Bell went the extra mile to give Garron and his family an incredible holiday to remember.
Ruth said, “Garron is mad about high-powered cars and loves Top Gear, so his wish was to go to Monaco which was one of the road trips that the program had done. Oh my goodness, it was the holiday of a lifetime! Garron was treated second to none.
We flew there and stayed in a lovely hotel where there was a swimming pool – something he was now able to enjoy because there was little risk of an infection.
The best bit was when he got to go for a spin in a Ferrari. He got to go in the front seat and his face must have been hurting afterwards from smiling so much!”
As well as the Ferrari ride, Garron was also picked up in a Rolls Royce and taken to the yacht show after a tour of Monaco.
His family didn’t tell him that he would also be getting the chance to go on a super yacht as they wanted it to surprise him – he was completely dumbfounded by the size of it!
He even got to switch on one of the engines and was given lots of goodies like crew t-shirts and jackets!
Having an exciting wish to look forward to during treatment was a real motivator for Garron. Wish experiences provide renewed energy and strength for children, like Garron.
Ruth said, “Garron had to grow up too quickly because he fell ill and had so much adult stuff to deal with. Being sick like that is the loneliest thing, because you’re cut off from the real world and you have to hide in the house in case of infections, so to have something like Monaco to look forward to was such a positive.”
“Memories aren’t easily made and you can’t just make them up. We’ll never forget this.
The work that was put into it was second-to-none and we appreciate it so much. Garron’s face just said it all as we arrived. These are real memories that will stay with us for a long time.”
A wish experience may be a moment in time, but it has the power to transform the lives of a child and their family forever.