“Monster cancer was killing our
by Linda McGrory
A BRAVE toddler who was under attack from a “monster
cancer” and given only a 30 per cent chance of
survival has beaten the odds after doctors gave him
Mike (44) and Aster Mullins (41) have hailed their
three-and-a-half year old son Andrew’s recovery “a
miracle” after his gruelling 18-month battle with
the rare and aggressive high-risk neuroblastoma.
“An evil creature, a demonic monster was inside our
baby. It had one goal and that was to kill,” said
Andrew was diagnosed
with the disease at the age of 17 months two years
ago. The young boy from Buncrana, Co Donegal, was
already in the fourth and final stages of the cancer
with a thick "tentacled" tumour measuring 8˝ inches
long wrapped around his spine. Tests at Our Lady's
Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin revealed that
the cancer was in 90 per cent of his bone marrow and
had spread to every bone in his body except those in
his hands and feet.
His Dutch-born mother and Kildare-born father say
the heartbreaking diagnosis plunged their young
family into turmoil.
Aster gives brave Andrew a cuddle
during his gruelling 18-month cancer battle.
"All of a sudden our
world was turned upside down. Our hearts were
broken," said full-time mum Aster, who was heavily
pregnant with the couple's sixth child at the time.
The Mullins first noticed something was wrong with
Andrew when he was 13 months. He would bang his head
against his cot and wake up screaming at night. He
lost his appetite, became scrawny and his walking
development stalled. The couple also noticed he
would tap his back when crying. In January 2011 they
discovered a small lump near his spine.
Truck-mad Andrew in the driving seat.
After his cancer
diagnosis the following month, the Mullins agreed
for their son to be put on a new European trial for
children with neuroblastoma. It involved an 18-month
treatment protocol in Crumlin that included
chemotherapy, stem cell transplant and immunotherapy
that was sometimes excruciating. He also had
radiotherapy at St Luke's hospital during the
At the same time, the Mullins, who are devout
Christians and founding members of the missionary
charity OM Ireland, launched a “worldwide prayer
blitz" and fundraising drive for their son. A
well-wisher sent them a CD entitled 'God wants you
Well' which they say transformed their lives and
changed the way they pray forever. "Rather than
pleading and begging for healing, we decided to put
our faith in a loving God who wants to heal," said
Mike, who works for the Irish Coast Guard at Malin
Head. At the same time, several thousand people were
following and praying for the blonde youngster on
his Facebook page. But progress was slow and it was
feared he might have to leave the medical trial.
Happy family: The Mullins from
Buncrana, Co Donegal, are delighted that Andrew has
got the cancer all-clear from doctors. Pictured are
dad Mike and mum Aster with their six children,
Matthew (12), Sarah (11), Jonathan (9), Joshua (7),
Andrew (3˝) and Grace (2).
However, as the
Mullins’ prayers for healing intensified, they
received a phone call on September 19, 2011 from
Andrew’s consultant to say the child's bones were
completely clean of cancer. The unexpected result
allowed him to remain on the trial and qualified him
for a stem cell transplant and immunotherapy. His
treatment finished in June 2012 and four months ago,
the bubbly youngster, who loves cars and trucks, was
given the official all-clear. He had an ultrasound
test last week in Crumlin and it revealed that he
remains cancer-free. The Mullins heap praise and
thanks on their son's medical team and the
ground-breaking treatments he received. But they say
they ultimately put their faith in God.
"We are in no doubt that Andrew's recovery is a
miracle. He received all the prescribed treatment
that was offered including chemotherapy, stem cell
transplant, radiotherapy and immunotherapy but even
still our faith rested with God and not in the
medicine to heal him," said Mike. The couple, whose
other children are Matthew (12), Sarah (11),
Jonathan (9), Joshua (7) and Grace (2), say they
have witnessed other extraordinary cases of healing
on their cancer journey with Andrew. They now want
to relay their message of hope to others.
"I think one of the reasons many people aren’t
healed is not God’s unwillingness to heal but
people's inability to receive," added Mike.