A mum who wants to make her son feel extra special on what could be his last birthday, has been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers.
Yavanna Keogh, from Dublin, is mum to Oscar, who will turn four on 24 June. At the start of the month she tweeted asking people to send her son a card on what could be his last birthday.
Since then the 34-year-old has been flooded with responses, with her son’s favourite TV star Richard Osman from ‘Pointless’ also vowing to help. “He sent us a direct message asking how he can help and he has promised to send a little video over to Oscar wishing him a happy birthday which will be absolutely amazing,” Yavanna tells HuffPost UK.
Oscar was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour when he was three and a half years old. Yavanna says there were subtle signs something was wrong in the lead up to his diagnosis - he seemed very anxious and began vomiting spit. After numerous trips to the doctor and multiple tests, he was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) which had grown on his brainstem.
“It is incredibly rare and somehow it had found Oscar,” Yavanna says.
Since then, Yavanna and her husband Lar, 34, have been trying to make every day extra special - and they want Oscar’s birthday this year to be the biggest yet.
“The hardest thing to do with a diagnosis like this - where you have some good time caught between the horror of diagnosis and the horror of what may be to come - is to live and live well,“ says Yavanna. “For us, keeping busy and planning the next adventure is how you keep getting up every morning and so we wanted to make his birthday incredibly special.”
On 1 June, Yavanna tweeted her followers asking them to send Oscar a card for his birthday. At the time of writing her tweet had been shared almost 2,000 times. The mum-of-one also tweeted Richard Osman to ask if he could send a card, as her son worships him. “His favourite show in the world is ‘Pointless’, which he insists on watching every day,” she says. “He pretends to be Richard Osman while the show is on and we have to be contestants.”
Within a matter of hours of Yavanna’s tweet, people had already begun writing and sending cards to her son. Yavanna says they’ve had people sharing photos of envelopes that are ready to post from Canada, New Zealand and Brazil. A radio station in Utah, US, told their listeners to send cards to their station and they’ll post everything over to Ireland on their behalf.
Yavanna and Lar, who have been together for 15 years, say they are “overwhelmed” by the response. “Everyone has been incredibly kind and the idea that people from all around the world are thinking of Oscar and helping him celebrate his birthday is immense and makes the world seem like less of a random and lonely place, which is how it feels when something terrible like cancer strikes.”
The couple have planned a huge party for their son with friends and family. “We hope to hang all the cards we get as decorations, so fingers crossed,” Yavanna adds.
“We can never thank people enough for the support they’ve shown us. They truly epitomise the positive power social media can wield and we’re so grateful they’ve made our world seem a little less dark.”
If you would like to send a card to Oscar, you can post it to: Yavanna Evans, Suite 218, 2 James Joyce Street, Dublin 1.
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