Save Vicky Phelan. Photo courtesy of Vicky Phelan
Vicky Phelan, Limerick Mother of Two Refuses to Stop Fighting for her Life
By ilovelimerick correspondent Zoe Conway
Vicky Phelan, a loving wife, and a devoted mother of two is going through the horrible experience of fighting a life-limiting disease for the second time. She was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014, a horrible disease she managed to beat, until last November.
During a routine scan, they discovered a large mass of lymph nodes attached to her aorta, which is inoperable. Because of her last battle with cancer, she cannot attempt radiation. Her oncologist has given her six months, twelve with chemotherapy.
Despite the struggle, she refuses to accept this and is currently applying for clinical trials in America, the prices of which can range from about seventy thousand euro, up to an astonishing three hundred and fifty thousand. This cost is after the price of uprooting her family to America.
Her hopes are mainly in the clinical trial currently taking place in Maryland, USA, as she explained, “in an ideal world that is the trial I would like to get on because it offers two different kinds of ‘wonder’ drugs that have had success with cervical cancer.” Vicky has been accepted provisionally, however, she has been told that “they only accept one patient per month and it could be several months before they can take me on the programme.”
Because of the waiting period to get on the trial, Vicky has been looking into other trials, most of which are based in America, but the problem is that “they are only offering one of the two drugs the Maryland trial offers. Some trials are offering the immunotherapy drug I’m looking at which is Pembrolizumab, some are offering the T-cell therapy, but this one offers both together and I think from everything I’m reading, both together seems to work better.”
In order to afford the extreme cost of moving to America and taking part in a clinical trial, Vicky and her family have set up a GoFundMe page, which in just a week has raised over €100,000. Vicky explained that “The reason I set up this GoFundMe page is because I can’t get the treatment I need here in Ireland. Basically, I’ve just been offered palliative treatment, private chemotherapy here, I can’t have surgery and I can’t have any more radiation either because I’ve had the maximum dose. So I have to go abroad to get treatment, and that’s why I had to start the fundraising because literally myself and my family wouldn’t have that kind of money to fund it.”
Initially Vicky had been reluctant to set up a GoFundMe page as she was thinking that “well I don’t really have anything confirmed, surely people won’t donate if it’s really fudgy and I don’t know where I’m going kind of thing,” but in the end it was her sister who convinced her. When asked how she felt about having so much raised in such a short period of time, Vicky was blown away, saying, “I never in my wildest dreams thought it would take off like it did. I was kind of thinking, god if we got €10,000 it would be great, you know? I’m blown away, absolutely. It’s been the best thing to come out of this cancer diagnosis, to be honest, just to see the support that I’m getting from people.”
When asked what her motivation was, to keep fighting and never give up, she responded, “There are two big reasons why I’m doing this and why I’m not giving up. The main one for me is my children. Specifically, my daughter, my daughter was born with a congenital disorder and she’s only twelve and she’s been through more in her short life than I have. Even though I’m faced with this life sentence, she has had so much to deal with and I mean, she’s so happy, she’s such a good child, I just think, if she loses her mother as well, on top of everything else she’s had to put up with. I just couldn’t live with myself. The other is for people who do take this lying down, for whatever reason. So if what I’m doing gives just one person the inspiration and the courage to go off and say no to the doctor and say no, I’m not going to die, I’m going to find something that will help. Then it will be for something.”
Vicky wanted to let everyone who has helped her – in any and every way – to know that, “I am so, so grateful for all the support that I’m getting from everybody in Limerick. Limerick has really gotten behind me. It’s my second home, I mean I’m from Kilkenny, but Limerick is my home at the end of the day, and I’m really grateful for all the support.”
To find out more about events for Vicky Phelan, go here.
To donate to Vicky Phelan’s Go Fund Me page, go here.