Mum urges parents to trust their judgment following daughter's rare cancer diagnosis 1 year ago

Mum urges parents to trust their judgment following daughter's rare cancer diagnosis

It's always better to be safe than sorry.

A mother is urging parents to trust their instincts after doctors in Belfast diagnosed her daughter with a rare form of cancer.

Fiona Mulholland, from Lisburn, says she first knew something was wrong with her then two-year-old daughter Mollie when she noticed a slight droop in her left eye.

"I instantly knew there was something very wrong with Mollie," she told Belfast Live, explaining that even before getting to the hospital, she knew it was a tumour.

The family had been out at a birthday party in July of 2018 when Fiona first noticed the droop, with her being the only one to see it.

"I noticed that day that something looked different about Mollie's left eye – it appeared displaced, but very subtle," she continued. "On the Sunday we went to another birthday party and her eye seemed a wee bit more obvious.

"Her eye lid seemed slightly droopy and again it was something that was only obvious to myself - nobody else could really see it."

When Fiona was in work on the Monday, Mollie's dad Declan took her to their GP, who thought it was an allergy. The next day when she saw her daughter awake, she knew it was something much more serious and took her to Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital.


Following a scan and a biopsy, doctors diagnosed rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that affects muscle tissue.

Within days, Mollie was undergoing chemotherapy, aged just two years and ten months. Her hair fell out over the following fortnight.

The family needed to move to Florida in the States while Mollie underwent a proton radiotherapy. Though she had to have a general anaesthetic every day for five and half weeks and was getting chemo at the same time, Fiona says they tried to make the time as enjoyable as possible for Mollie and her big sister Grace by visiting the state's many theme parks.

On her return to Northern Ireland, Mollie had more chemo. She finally finished up with treatment in January 2020.

Though Mollie has been left blind in her left eye, she's now doing well and enjoying school.

As July is Sarcoma Awareness Month, Fiona hopes sharing their family's story will encourage parents not to doubt themselves if they suspect something isn't right with their child.

"Trust your instincts," she urged.

Feature image credit: Belfast Live