Michael Mullen, 26, graduated while undergoing chemotherapy only to be diagnosed again once he reached Harvard Law School.
Michael Mullen was just 16-months old when he was first diagnosed with cancer. Now aged 26, he is battling the illness for the third time in his life having worked hard through his chemotherapy to graduate from Trinity College Dublin and win a place in Harvard Law School.
Diagnosed with a rare form of metastasized renal cell cancer, Mullen, originally from Co. Kildare, must remain in Boston for as long as possible to continue to receive life-saving treatment, targeted chemotherapy, that is not available in Ireland. He is now raising funds, much in the same way that he had previously raised money for cancer charities, to help him afford the treatment in the US.
“Michael has always dedicated his time to helping others,” said a statement from the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund, established to help raise money.
“He helped organize Kildare’s Relay for Life which raised €30,000. Michael often visited St John’s cancer ward in Crumlin, where he was treated as a baby, with presents for the patients. He has also volunteered with Harvard’s Disability Project, assisted victims of crimes in court, and helped out with Best Buddies.
“Michael has dedicated his personal and professional life to helping those most vulnerable in society. Now it’s our turn to come together and help Mick beat cancer for the third time!”
As a baby, Mullan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma with a 1 in 4 chance of survival. Overcoming it the first time around with chemotherapy, surgery and a bone marrow transplant, the Kildare man remained cancer free again until he was 22 and in the final year of his Law and Business degree in Trinity.
Determined not to let cancer prevent him from completing the course, not only did Mullan study through his treatment to finish with top grades but he successfully applied for a scholarship to Harvard Law School, where he moved with his girlfriend, Mel.
Just four months after moving to the Boston area in 2015 to complete his Masters of Law at the prestigious school, however, the 26-year-old received his third cancer diagnosis and was faced with the prospect of having to remain in the US to get the proper treatment. Thankfully, he was living in the right city at the time of the diagnosis to avail of the life-saving therapy.
"We were alone in a new city and knew very few people. My parents gave up their jobs in Ireland to be with me for nine months. We considered going home but realized that there was no treatment available for me in Ireland," Mullan wrote in an article for The Journal.ie, explaining that it was just days before his 24th birthday when he was told he had six months to live.
"At the age of 24, despite having had cancer twice before, I had never really thought about my mortality."
Thankfully, the treatment began to take but not without having devastating effects on his body as forcing Mullan to take a break from Harvard. He returned to his studies once more, while still undergoing chemotherapy, to graduate in 2017 with his Master's degree.
“Medical and living expenses in the US are extremely expensive and therefore we need to fundraise for Michael to continue receiving this targeted chemotherapy,” said his dedicated fund.
“There should never be a price put on someone’s life, but for us, that’s our reality.”
If you would like to contribute to the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund, you can do so at their GoFundMe page or find further information on the website or Facebook page. There are also several fundraising events taking place in Ireland over the next few months including Laugh for Mick and 5K for Mick.