Mum, 37, in appeal to fund treatment of rare cancer

A 37-year-old mother who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer which meant her tongue had to be removed has made an urgent appeal for funds to enable her to travel abroad to get medical treatment in a bid to prolong her life.

Caroline Sweeney with Jamie, 8, and Zara, 3.

Caroline Sweeney, from Macroom, Co Cork, is mother to Jamie, 8, and Zara, 3. Earlier this month, she was told by doctors that her only option was palliative care. She has been encouraged to get her affairs in order and to write a will.

Ms Sweeney told the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s RedFM, that she isn’t ready to go to a hospice and wants to battle to extend her life in order to see her children grow up.

She is currently exploring the possibility of undergoing experimental treatment in Germany, which would cost in the region of €30,000.

“Two weeks ago on a Friday I was brought in and more or less told to put my house in order and to get my will sorted. My poor children have lost their (grandfather) last October and have lost my partner’s mother. They have lost two family members. It is not about me. It is about my children,” said Ms Sweeney.

“If I was in my 50s I would say ‘thank you very much I have had a very nice time. Good luck’. But I am 37 and I have two small girls who need their mum and I am not giving up for them. My oldest Jamie is making her holy communion next May.”

Ms Sweeney’s sister, Michelle, said doctors are perplexed as to the reason for the development of the tongue cancer.

Michelle Sweeney said her sister’s condition is particularly startling given her age and the fact that she is a non-smoker and has lived a healthy life.

“She is relatively fit and there is no association with tongue cancer. There is no reason for it. Just bad luck.”

Caroline Sweeney was diagnosed with cancer on her tongue in June 2016. She underwent surgery to remove half her tongue. She also had chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In December, her cancer returned and Ms Sweeney had to have her whole tongue removed.

Two weeks ago she was told that a new tumour has emerged on her neck. She also has spots on her lungs. Doctors informed her that the cancer is not survivable and that she needs to enter Marymount Hospice in the city.

However, the sisters have explored radical new treatments on offer in Germany. Ms Sweeney says she is praying for a miracle that will extend her life.

“I am not ready for it (death). They want to put me on palliative care. The girls are my life. I have worked hard all my life. I just want a chance.”

Tongue cancer is less common than many other types of the disease. Most people who get it are older adults. One of the first signs of tongue cancer is a lump or sore on the side of your tongue that doesn’t go away. It may be pinkish-red in colour. Incidences of tongue cancer are more common in smokers and heavy drinkers.

Donations can be made to the fund at

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