Epic fundraising challenge launched after Irish girl recevies vital  cancer treament

Epic fundraising challenge launched after Irish girl recevies vital cancer treament

A CHALLENGING fundraising initiative has been launched after a young girl received vital cancer treatment abroad with the support of an Irish charity.

During the Covid-19 pandemic Ellie, 12, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called a meningioma after doctors found a large tumour attached to her optic nerve, which had been affecting her sight.

The Limerick-based youngster was unable to have the cancer treated in Ireland, but her family were told she could benefit from proton radiation treatment available in Germany.

Without the procedure there was a high chance that Ellie would go completely blind, but her mother Caroline and stepfather Tim O’Driscoll were unsure how to secure it for her.

With four of Ellie’s siblings at home they were unable to cover the costs of the travel and six weeks accommodation needed for Ellie while she underwent the treatment in Essen in western Germany.

But a call from the Gavin Glynn Foundation changed everything, as the Wicklow-based charity, which offers financial support for children with cancer and their families, were able to provide the funding to get Ellie and her family to Germany.

Ellie received vital cancer treatment in Germany

“I can't even explain the trauma we experienced in getting Ellie’s diagnosis,” Tim told The Irish Post.

“It left us with such pain that our little girl was going blind and the thought process we went through was how do we get to Germany in the middle of Covid, find a place to live, stay there for six weeks and get her to the clinic each day for five days of the week all while both of us being self-employed and with four other kids to look after.

“It left us shocked to the core and no matter what way I looked at it, it terrified me.”

He added: “Then one day Caroline told me that the Gavin Glynn Foundation had contacted her and said they would look after all the flights for us and Ellie and for the other kids to visit, and that they had an apartment that we could stay in while in Germany.

“They were going to cover all the transfers from the airport and to the clinic each day and were offering financial support in Germany too, all we had to do was give them a copy of our passports.

“To say I was gobsmacked was an understatement,” he admits.

“I couldn't believe that this was real in our time of despair, John Glynn seemed like a modern-day hero to me.”

Ellie, 12, has responded well to the treatment

Ellie underwent the radiation treatment in Germany and six months later the family were relieved to be told that it had been a success - as not only had the growth stopped but there had been an improvement in her vision.

The positive result prompted Tim and members of Ellie’s family to do something to give back to the charity which supported them in their time of need.

This week they are undertaking a Pedal to the Peaks fundraising challenge – which will see them climb the highest mountains in Ireland’s four provinces.

The group started at Seefin, Co. Limerick on October 1. Their route sees them cycle to Lugnaquilla in Co. Wicklow, Slieve Donard in Co. Down, and Mweelrea in Co. Galway, and finally Carrauntoohil in County Kerry, all in under a week.

They will cycle to and from each mountain, covering an estimated distance of 1100km, before heading home again.

“None of this would have been possible if it wasn't for John Glynn and the amazing work he does with the Gavin Glynn Foundation,” Tim admits.

“I knew from day one I had to do something to raise awareness for this charity as I had never heard of this Foundation until they contacted us.

“After brainstorming with Ross, Caroline's cousin, about how we could do something to help the Foundation, eventually we came up with the four peaks challenge,

“In all an estimated total of 4155m of climbing will be done on the hikes with over 1100km of cycling in between,” he added, “and our aim is to complete this in under a week.”

He explained: “Even though the challenge seems massive, it is nothing compared to the challenges our children can face in this world and without the Gavin Glynn Foundation that challenge is impossible for some of them.”

Tim O’Driscoll, Ross Foley and Tim Mullen, all of whom have family members living in Britain, began their epic challenge over the weekend and are due to complete it this week.

Donations to the fundraising page can be made here.