Brave mum 'The thought of dying and leaving my kids alone is too much to bear' - mum-of-three's heartache over incurable brain cancer diagnosis
"I won't see their communions, confirmations or their weddings but I can give them memories."
Meet the brave mum-of-three who is using Instagram as a memory book for her children after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.
Alannah Sheehan (32) was convinced she had epilepsy after suffering two seizures earlier this year, instead, the popular chef found out she is battling a rare and incurable form of brain cancer.
Diagnosed with a grade-four brain tumour, Alannah, who is mum to Finn (five), Luca (three) and nine-month-old Phoebe, has now been given just a 50 per cent chance of surviving past two years.
Despite her limited life expectancy, Alannah who lives in Co. Tipperary with her family, is now busily making memories with her children and beloved husband Martin.
"I was worried that I was going to die soon so I decided my Instagram page could be a journal to leave the kids. If I was to die tomorrow how could a letter tell them everything I wanted to say? It's just not enough."
The devoted mum - who set up her Instagram account @worth_fighting4 to document her journey and also raise vital awareness - first fell ill in January on the night of Phoebe's christening.
"My husband woke up and found me lying face down, I was biting down on my lip and my tongue and there was blood everywhere."
Dismissed by doctors as stress the popular chef suffered a second seizure just weeks later on February 15.
"I was staying at my friend's house with the three kids. I remember walking down the stairs carrying Phoebe and I felt like I was being dragged down. I got to the couch and put her down because I knew something was happening and then everything went black. I was foaming at the mouth and my friend immediately called an ambulance. When I woke up I didn't remember my children's names, I couldn't remember anything."
Convinced that the episodes were a sign of epilepsy, the mum was shell-shocked when an MRI scan later revealed a large mass on her brain.
"They found a tumour that was one quarter the size of my brain - I was told there was a three per cent chance that it was cancerous."
Doctors gave Alannah two options - not to interfere with the tumour or undergo surgery to remove it.
"I was awake when they performed a craniotomy to remove the mass so they could monitor the movement on my left-hand side of my body so I wouldn't be paralysed."
Despite medics removing 90 per cent of the tumour, just three weeks later Alannah received the phone call that ended life as she knew it when she was diagnosed with a Grade 4 cancerous brain tumour, also known as Glioblastoma Multiforme.
"I was told it was the most deadly type of brain cancer you can have. I couldn't breathe on the phone and I was trying to listen and write down as much as I could. When I got off the phone I googled it and it said I had 12 to 18 months to live.
"I just thought, I've got three children. At the time my eldest was four and my youngest was just four months old.
"I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I just thought I could die tonight. I remember one night we had a movie on for the children and I just couldn't sit down with them because I couldn't stop crying when I was in their company. I was just looking at my children thinking I'm not going to be here for school, communions, confirmations, weddings, for anything.
"Now I don't think about that because the thought of dying and leaving my kids alone is too much to bear, I feel like that alone could stop my heart beating.
"Sometimes I almost feel guilty that I had children because I will die but I am also so grateful for them because I couldn't imagine going through this without them - they put a smile on my face every single day."
Determined to live her life to the fullest for as long as she possibly can, friends and family have created a Go Fund Me page which will prove vital for future treatments.
"If you survive longer than two years you're considered a long-term survivor and I'm determined to get there. I've been doing as much research as I can. I'm eating no carbs and sugar and I'm taking so many supplements. I'm really looking after myself and I think that's had a huge effect on my mood."
Since her diagnosis, Alannah has suffered multiple seizures and has undergone 30 radiation treatments and is now enduring a second round of chemotherapy.
"If occurrence does happen there are no clinical trials for me but there are some treatment options in America. If someone reads this from a pharmaceutical company or if anyone knows of alternative treatments, I will try anything. That's why the Go Fund me page has been so important. My husband Martin has also been forced to give up work to become a full-time caregiver because I can have a seizure at any time.
"I'm not giving up - anyone that knows me knows I always have been very determined. I love my life, I have too much to live for.
"We were working as much as we could for about four years previous to me having Phoebe to get enough money together to buy our house. On the day Phoebe was delivered the house came through, it just felt like magic. We really have worked so hard for everything we have and I'm not prepared to give that up.
"Before I had cancer I thought I had a million problems. But now that I have cancer, I now know I only have one problem, the rest of my life is perfect."