24 Sept 2022

Laois girl who beat cancer is now cutting off her hair to help sick kids

Laois girl who beat cancer is now cutting off her hair to help sick kids

Karagh Cahill from Portarlington who is donating her hair to the Rapunzel Foundation to raise money for Aoibheann's Pink Tie

It is six years since Laois baby Karagh Cahill became cancer free, and now she is donating her beautiful long hair to help other sick children.

Karagh from Portarlington was just 12 weeks old when her parents Sarah McAuley and Keith Cahill noticed a lump on her back, in 2011. It was diagnosed as neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.

The first-time young parents were devastated.

“When she was first diagnosed, we were told she had a 30 percent chance of survival. Devastating isn’t the word. When we look back, we wonder how did we even do it.

“She was our first born, literally your life stops. You don’t even think. It’s the worst news you can ever get, it’s indescribable,” Sarah recalls.

The tiny tot had two major surgeries, on her chest and abdomen.

This was followed a round of chemotherapy, with weekly hospital trips for blood tests and dressings.

“We got the all clear six months later. Thankfully we are all here now to tell her story,” said Sarah.

Below: Karagh as a baby with parents Keith and Sarah. Photo by Michael Scully.

Sarah describes her bubbly confident daughter now.

“Karagh is just amazing, fully healthy and happy. She is confident and outgoing with lots of friends. She is at the top in her dancing school and gets top marks in school. She is going into first class this week at Portarlington Presentation Primary, and there is just a buzz around the house,” the proud mother said.

They have two more children now, Fraya-Nicole is five, and Casey aged two and Karagh rules the roost.

Karagh who is nearly seven, gets lots of compliments for her long hair.

“She never had a big cut, only a trim. People literally stop us in the street, she has thick, long amazing hair with colours you would pay for. She loves her hair, she’s all about it,” said her mother.

Recently Karagh made the announcement that she wanted to cut all her hair off.

“She said that little girls are sick and don’t have hair, and she wanted to cut it off and help them. It’s a massive decision that she came to herself,” Sarah said.

Karagh is aware of her early battle with cancer.

“She has always understood how lucky she is. We kept in touch with families and she knows that some children who were sick like her couldn’t get better. We decided then we would do it properly and make a big deal of it,” said Sarah.

Karagh plans to donate 14 inches of her hair to the Rapunzel foundation who make wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.

The family launched an online fundraiser for the charity Aoibheann’s Pink Tie a fortnight ago and have already raised over €900.

“They help families of children with cancer. Lots of people thankfully don’t understand, but they help in a massive way with things like bills, food shopping and mortgage payments when you can’t work because you’re in hospital with your child.

“Even now they send Karagh a Christmas gift. Whatever money we can raise to give to them, they deserve a massive thanks,” Sarah said.

Dublin's GAA teams are sporting the charity's logo on jerseys this summer.

Karagh's big haircut is on Saturday September 22 in On Fleek hair salon in Portarlington. There is a collection bucket and sponsor cards in the salon already.

Meanwhile Keith and his brother Dean who are big car fans, are going to hold a Car Fun Day in Geashill GAA club, on Sunday September 9.

There will be vintage and show cars, activities for kids and a food stall. Entry is free with donations accepted.

Donate online here. 

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