Wexford sixth class student, 11-year-old Alfie Murphy has been dubbed an ‘entrepeneur’ after inventing a hand sanitiser that doubles as a pen to use at school.

They are called Ninja Clean and he has already sold over 2000 of them!

He caught up with Shonagh this week to tell her how he is coping with his newfound fame…

Alfie goes to the Glenbrien Holy Family Primary School and has already had to put some of his friends on a waiting list to get their hands on a pen. This week in school he got to stand up and tell his class all about his business.

He has made sure that he’s keeping it in the family with Dad Rob and Mum Yvonne lending a hand getting it onto virtual shelves at ninjaclean.eu.

Alfie told Shonagh how he has treated his mum to a ‘flat white’ to thank her for all her hard work so far! And his younger brother Archie who is five is also working hard having sold 5 or 6 pens this week!

Alfie makes sure he gets his homework done before he starts working on his orders every day!

Amy McLoughlin

Amy McLoughlin is a Leaving Cert student from Carlow who three months ago began writing for Missy.ie – Ireland’s online teen magazine. She told Shonagh about opening up in her latest article which is all about the way we talk to ourselves.

“Hey there. My name is Amy McLoughlin, I’m seventeen years old and I live in Carlow. I’m currently in sixth year at St. Leo’s College Carlow and my interests span far and wide, from musical theatre and books to competitive debating and American politics. I have always loved to write and when the opportunity to write for Missy.ie came around in August I jumped at the chance. Missy.ie is Ireland’s No. 1 teen online magazine. It was founded in 2017 by a team living and working right here in the middle of the southeast. They produce daily content on all topics. If you need advice on anything, growing up, fashion trends, what movies to watch, and answers to those questions you’re a bit nervous to ask, I can assure you, there’s an article about it on Missy.

I wrote my first piece on my worries about going back to school during Covid and how I was dealing with my newfound fear of the unknown. Since then, my articles have gone from strength to strength. With my most recent being by far my favourite. I have grown up in a world where mental health is becoming a more and more acceptable topic to discuss. How we talk to others, what we can do to make our environments as open and safe as possible and how we can flip the conversation on mental health on its head and make something that everyone feels comfortable talking and learning about. However, something that I often struggle with and see my friends and family struggling with; is the way we talk to ourselves. We often say thing something to ourselves that never in a million years would we dream of saying to a person in real life, and that is where the idea for this article came from.

Every time I have ever gotten out of the car to go somewhere my mother always says, “treat people the way you would like to be treated”. She’s right of course. But what if I invert it. What if the way that that you treat yourself and your brain is just as important as the way you treat everyone else? Treat yourself the way you would like other people to be treated. It is something much easier said than done and is a struggle for people on a daily basis. I wouldn’t be known as someone who puts themselves under a constant amount of pressure but even, I tend to do it from time to time. My advice in this piece was for people to put themselves in other people’s shoes and see that their actions are not stupid or idiotic. They are human.

The reaction I have received from this piece is truly overwhelming and something I never expected when this all began. But to think that maybe I’m making a difference to one person, that makes my day. You are a machine; you can only operate the machine if every moving part is working. Don’t let the devil on your shoulder get in the way of your life and if you ever need a chat, stop by Missy.ie online or on Instagram. Be kind to everyone you meet, but remember be kind to yourself too.”

Ellen O’Keeffe

Shonagh caught up with Ellen O’Keeffe from Waterford who is fundraising for, ‘My Canine Companion’ which provide highly trained and skilled service dogs to people with Autism. Ellen told Shonagh why it’s so important to her.

Aidan is 6-years-old, funny, loving and would brighten anybody’s day.

Aidan is also autistic. This means that he has certain struggles that other kids his age don’t have. He is severely speech delayed, has no conversational skills, no danger awareness and often gets overstimulated.

A service dog from My Canine Companion could change his life. It would give him the independence to go for walks without needing a buggy, to help keep him calm in times of anxiety and most of all be a devoted companion in a relationship that requires no words.

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It costs €10,000 to train a service dog for a child with Autism. My Canine Companion receives no government funding and relies solely on fundraising efforts in order to provide this life-changing service. We are trying to do our little bit to make sure they get the funds they need to continue to provide these dogs to children across the country.

Alice Phelan

“When a young woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in her twenties or thirties, harsh treatment such as chemo and other hormonal drugs can have long-lasting effects on her fertility. It can sometimes be a double blow.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 and was trying for baby number two. I had no family history of breast cancer, did not smoke, and was a healthy weight and an active mammy to one-and-a-half-year-old Billy. When the consultant told me it was cancer, my immediate response was “but I could be pregnant right now” and he replied, “well that will change things”. A couple of days later I found out I wasn’t pregnant. Looking back now I think I was equally as devastated about finding out I had cancer as I was to find out I wasn’t pregnant. I had it all mapped out in my head and from that moment on, my medical team kept telling me not to get pregnant when it was all I wanted to be. Both the fear of getting chemo and the chance of not giving Billy a sibling was heartbreaking.

Luckily for me, I found the cancer early and it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. I got a referral for IVF (Rotunda Hospital, Dublin). There I hoped to freeze embryos as a plan B if I had to get chemo. Two embryos fertilised! Success! The embryos were frozen and put into storage for 5 years. The knowledge of this put me at ease, it meant I had options. As the consultant at the Rotunda explicitly stated: “this is not a guarantee, it’s simply giving you options”. That was good enough for me. Weeks later, I met with my oncologist and she advised my cancer would not benefit from chemo so my treatment plan would consist of a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

Getting a cancer diagnosis at a young age catapults you into thinking about what you want in the future. You mightn’t have even thought about having kids yet. Having kids is not for everyone and hey that’s OK too! But for those that do want kids, freezing eggs or embryos might be an option (depending on your type/stage of cancer and advice from your medical team).

After many discussions with my oncologist, I was allowed to take a break from hormone therapy for one year to try to get pregnant. The plan was to try naturally for 6 months and if that didn’t work, go down the IVF route. Nothing like the pressure of a time limit to get you in the mood! Eh? If both methods failed, I was advised to go back on hormone therapy immediately. However, I got pregnant naturally and had a baby girl called Abigail Hope Power. She has brought so much happiness to our lives.

Regardless of age, breast cancer can affect women in their twenties and thirties. The youngest I’ve met is 24 and the oldest is 38. Early detection cannot only save your life but it may help preserve your fertility by undergoing less harsh treatment such as chemo and other drugs. Don’t let cancer rob you of your future choices, be proactive and check yourself monthly. If in doubt, get checked out!”

Diane Fitzharris

“When you begin your cancer treatment, you have one goal in mind; The finish line.  You imagine that once all goes well and treatment is successful that you will be skipping out of that last appointment, or so overjoyed to hear the words ‘go live your life’ from your consultant.

But unfortunately, in most cases, and something I certainly learned, was, that is not the case! You become overwhelmed, and feelings of loneliness and sadness begin to appear.

Your hair is growing back, you ‘look’ well, but how you look on the outside doesn’t always reflect how you feel on the inside. The safety net of frequent hospital appointments are taken away, you are left to your own devices and like any trauma in our lives, you begin to process what has happened and resent the cancer for how it has changed you. On top of all that, you feel guilty for feeling this way as you are so grateful to have gotten through it all but the journey continues beyond the chemo/radio ward. This is something that I would personally like to highlight as it is so common but no one along the way prepares you for this.

Many women, myself included, have to take a drug called Tamoxifen for 5-10years after chemo finishes. This is specifically for HER2 positive type breast cancer and is essentially an estrogen blocker. This can lead to early/chemical menopause which brings a whole new range of side effects and symptoms which you have to face and try to manage on a daily basis.

All that aside then, the fear of recurrence surfaces a lot and you wonder if this really is the end or ‘will it come back?’ and will you have to face it all again sometime down the line. Personally, I find taking one day at a time and trying not to look too far ahead can really help keep these fears at bay. but it is quite often easier said than done.

This is when you need to reach out for the support of your local cancer support centre or call the helpline at The Irish Cancer Society.  Chatting to someone who has been there can also be such good support, as they will know exactly how you feel and understand.”

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