b'KARENKaren ONeill was a camper at Barretstown when she was 16 years old. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemiaand underwent grueling treatments as a child before coming to Barretstown. Her father Andrew said, The support fromThe Ireland Funds has enabled Karen to achieve today what she has reached. Three years ago when she was ill, we hadno expectations.Heres how Karen recently expressed her feelings about her time at Barretstown:Its impossible to describe the impact Barretstown has had on my life. Theres no combination of words that couldfully describe it. I arrived at camp a shy and apprehensive teenager, just six months after finishing my treatment.I remember before I went I met a family whod experienced the camp before. They told me that Barretstown was theHogwarts of the real world, where magic really did happen. Yeah right, magic! was about all I could manage to say.Driving through the wrought iron gates towards the idyllic castle set by the glistening lake, it felt like entering into anew world, and I was overwhelmed by the warmth that embraced me. Some friends Id made in hospital were camperstoo. It was nice for us all to make the transition back to normal teenagers together; to share our experiences andstrengthen our friendships. I have since returned to Barretstown on two occasions, the most special of which was whenI got the chance to share the experiences with my family. I feel Barretstown offered me a chance to regain all the confi-dence I lost due to my illness. Barretstown inspired me to stand up and make a difference. It gave me back my inde-pendence. And allowed me to explore my creative side and overcome fears. (I arrived terrified of heightsI left withthe will to go skydiving, which I did last year, jumping out of a plane at 10,000 ft!) But most importantly . . . Barretstowntaught me to smile and laugh no matter what happens. It taught me to embrace the world in all its glory. To realize thereis life after cancer.Karen in 2008Karen todayafter completing four courses of chemotherapy. A college student studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin.connect 2011 20connect 2012 20'