Limerick mum 'blown away' by response to cancer trial appeal

Gofundme appeal for the Limerick boy has so far raised €220,000 of a €375,000 target for inclusion on a US trial for an immunotherapy drug 
Limerick mum 'blown away' by response to cancer trial appeal

Theo Murnane, as a baby, with his mother Eleanor. Theo, now aged three, is finishing treatment for cancer after a large tumour was removed from his body, but requires €375,000 to be included on a US cancer trial of an immunotherapy drug, which could dramatically lower the chances of his high-risk cancer returning. 

A Limerick mother of one said she is “blown away” by the response to her urgent appeal for emergency funds to enrol her young son in a US cancer trial, that could help save his life.

Friends of Eleanor Murnane, from Murroe, set up a gofundme account online, last Tuesday, which today had raised over €220,000 of a €375,000 goal.

The funds will go towards travel, accommodation, and costs of the New York cancer trial, which is scheduled to begin in January.

“I’m just blown away by the kindness of so many people. I really can’t thank people enough for their donations, prayers and text messages,” said Ms Murnane.

Her son, Theo, aged three, was diagnosed with stage four cancer two weeks after his second birthday in May 2018, after doctors at University Hospital Limerick found a large tumour in his abdomen had spread to his bones and scalp.

“He’s my only boy, so I need to get him to New York, I can’t afford to wait, but I need €375,000,” Ms Murnane said.

Ms Murnane said the treatment that is being made available in New York involves “an enhanced round of immunotherapy” which is hoped will considerably lower the chances Theo’s cancer returning.

The trial is initially scheduled for one year.

“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,” she said.

Theo needs to be in New York by January 2021, so we urgently need help

“It takes a community to raise a child and my community have been incredible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your donations, prayers, and messages,” she said.

Theo is just finishing seven months of harsh chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as a round of immunotherapy, which Ms Murnane explained: “trains the white cells to recognise and fight cancer cells”.

After he was rushed by ambulance from UHL to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, doctors diagnosed Theo with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, and within hours the little boy was receiving his first dose of 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, 14 rounds of radiotherapy and six rounds of immunotherapy.” However, there have been “setbacks along the way, including two very serious infections which had him admitted to Intensive Care”.

                        Theo Murnane, now aged three. A gofundme account set up last Tuesday has at the time of publication raised over €220,000 of a €375,000 goal for his US cancer trial.
Theo Murnane, now aged three. A gofundme account set up last Tuesday has at the time of publication raised over €220,000 of a €375,000 goal for his US cancer trial.

Ms Murnane said she has “come scarily close” to losing her son to cancer, but thankfully he has continued to “defy all odds and battle through”.

“He is just about to finish his last round of immunotherapy, after which we are hopeful for a clear scan. Unfortunately, with the type of cancer that Theo has, the chance of re-occurrence is extremely high, we now need help.” 

In a heartbreaking plea for funds, Ms Murnane said: “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 help.” 

The battle has been hard: “Theo is only three, yet has been in treatment for two and a half years. 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 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,” Ms Murnane offered.

“I have done it all for Theo, who is at the end of the day is 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,” she said.

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