BY MICHELLE CREAN
A Killarney man battling a very rare form of pancreatic cancer faces an uncertain future without specialist life-saving treatment – at a staggering cost of €180,000.
To give 38 year-old Ross Hurley, who is originally from St Brendan’s Terrace, Killarney, any chance of survival, he has to undergo a radical new treatment in Bangkok as soon as possible.
Ross and his wife Nina, who now both live in Callinafercy, need to urgently raise €32,000 to cover his first round of treatment and accommodation abroad.
“Time is of the essence and we need these funds so as to move forward and give Ross a greater chance at life,” his wife Nina told the Killarney Advertiser this week.
Ross had been sick and feeling off for months but multiple trips to the doctor, hospital and scans revealed nothing.
However, when jaundice set in an endoscopy finally revealed a large tumour, and on October 19 last, Ross was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Major surgery followed in Cork University Hospital to remove his gallbladder, duodenum, quarter of his stomach and the head of the pancreas – but because it’s such a rare form Ross will need ongoing preventative treatment.
The couple said that they were devastated to learn that the one-year relative survival rate, according to the American Cancer Society, is 20 percent, and the five-year rate is seven percent, which that means that only seven out of 100 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive five years.
“It’s been a long tough year,” Ross said this week.
“It’s the most silent of all the cancers. I was very lucky I got jaundice which helped get the diagnosis.”
The first round of the CAR-T-Cell therapyin Bangkok, Ross explained, includes an essential two weeks rest over there so he is fit and healthy to undergo four weeks of treatment, followed by two weeks or more to recuperate.
“In a nutshell the treatment builds up the immune system to fight the cancer – they engineer cells – it’s pretty new.”
Regular bloods tests at home in Ireland would monitor his health and further treatments in the future may be necessary, he added.
“If treatment is successful they can cryogenically freezeyour good fighting immune cells for up to three years. If I develop cancer within that time I can go back and it can help fight the cancer.”
In just 16 days since the GoFundMe page was set up over €6,000 has been raised and the couple are hoping more people will help them raise as much of the funding as possible to give Ross a fighting chance.
“The fundraising will be on a long term basis. It’s a tough time of the year with Christmas just over and people have spent so much. It doesn’t have to be much – even just a euro – no matter how little it will all help.”
To donate to www.gofundme.com/help-raise-treatment-funds-for-Ross