Eleanor Murnane, a single mother in Co Limerick, has launched the ‘Team up for Theo’ GoFundMe page to raise €375,000 in order to get her son Theo from Ireland to New York City for a potentially life-saving clinical trial.
On the ‘Team up for Theo’ GoFundMe page, which has raised more than €282k at the time of publication, Eleanor explained that she brought Theo to his doctor after discovering a lump in his lower abdomen on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, just two weeks after Theo's first birthday.
"We were immediately sent to University Hospital Limerick where they found a large tumour in Theo’s abdomen. He was taken by ambulance to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin, where he was diagnosed with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, a cancer that had spread to his bones and scalp. By Saturday morning, he was having chemotherapy and our world had fallen apart.
“Since then, Theo has had his tumour removed and gone through numerous rounds of chemotherapy, a double stem cell transplant, fourteen rounds of radiotherapy, and six rounds of immunotherapy.
“He has suffered setbacks along the way, including two very serious infections which had him admitted to Intensive Care. We have come scarily close to losing him, but Theo has defied all odds and battled through it.
“He is just about to finish his last round of immunotherapy, after which we are hopeful for a clear scan. Theo is only three and has been in treatment for two and a half years.
“Unfortunately, with the type of cancer that Theo has, the chance of re-occurrence is extremely high. We now need help. Today, as Theo’s mum, I am asking you to help me get Theo on a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital Cancer Centre in New York.
“This trial will help prevent the cancer re-occurring and greatly improve Theo’s chances of survival. Theo deserves a long, healthy life free from pain and fear. I have to do everything in my power to make sure he gets this. We need to raise €375,000. Time is not on our side, as Theo needs to be in New York by January 2021, so we urgently need your help.
“The last two and a half years have been incredibly tough, especially as a single parent. I have learned firsthand how precious life really is and how quickly it can all be taken away. I will be forever grateful for the love and kindness from people who have sent thoughts, prayers, and good wishes, even those we’ve never even met. And, of course, we are forever indebted to the wonderful staff in Crumlin Hospital and University Hospital Limerick, who have become like family to us.
“I think the hardest part of cancer treatment is at the end, when everyone assumes you’re cured and you no longer need their help. This isn’t true. Believe me, this is when you’re at your absolute weakest.
"I have laid my child in a surgeon’s arms and spent Christmas keeping watch over him in ICU. I have slept upright in a hospital chair and listened to the beeping of machines. I have smiled through the tears and found strength when there wasn’t any left. I have done it all for Theo, who is at the end of the day just a very normal, very precious boy, full of mischief, quick to smile, and a big fan of Tractor Ted and Paw Patrol. Today, I need my friends and community to help me give Theo the best future he can possibly have."
In addition to the GoFundMe, the Team up for Theo group has also set up a raffle where signed Limerick, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Dublin, and Galway jerseys are up for grabs, as well as a signed Munster and Ireland rugby jersey. You can enter the €20 raffle here.
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Murnane told The Limerick Post that any funds raised will help cover travel, accommodation, and costs of the cancer trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, which is scheduled to begin in January.
She added: “We hope to be over there for a month initially and then travel back and forth over the year. It will hopefully massively improve his chances. I don’t want to regret not doing this and for it to be too late, so I have no choice but to try."