Tuesday 22 August 2017

Brave Irish mum dies from cancer days after raising money for miracle treatment

Claire Graham with son Harley
Claire Graham with son Harley

Kathy Armstrong and Melanie Finn

Tributes have been paid to an Irish mum who passed away after days after raising almost €100,000 for pioneering cancer treatment.

Claire Graham (38) raised over €99,000 for wonder drug Pembrolizumab, which she hoped would help her beat an aggressive strain of breast cancer.

Sadly just months after her diagnosis, Claire and her husband Declan's son Harley (2) lost an eye to a really rare strain of cancer called retinoblastoma.

Harley is now cancer free but tragically Claire died on Monday.

Claire Graham
Claire Graham

Claire met Michele Trapiche online last year when they were both diagnosed with triple negative breast.

Michelle paid tribute to Claire, who lived in Drimnagh, Dublin, saying: "I don't think I've ever met someone so strong, she had such resilience and a will to live, she kept getting knocked back but she was determined she would beat it.

"Her husband Declan is amazing too, he's a quiet, unassuming man but he was such a strong support to herself and Harley.

"I can't say enough good things about their family."

Read More: 'I'm alive with a young son so I'll keep fighting' - Mother in plea for €100k cancer drug

Michele, who lives in Manchester, said that when they found out that Pembrolizumab isn't yet licenced for use here she decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help her friend pay for it.

Michele - who has finished chemotherapy herself, had a mastectomy and is awaiting test results - said she knew she had to help Claire.

She told Independent.ie: "I had been given a chance to be here for my daughter and I just wanted Claire to have the same with Harley, though sadly that wasn't to be.

Claire Graham with son Harley and husband Declan
Claire Graham with son Harley and husband Declan

"In a month the page raised over £86,000, once we reached the target we closed the page.

"She was still getting chemotherapy and was wiped out from it but we had the money and were waiting for her to bounce back and then we thought we would be able to get her the drugs in the UK.

"Unfortunately about a week and a half ago a doctor pulled her family aside and said that she was too far gone, it was too late and there wasn't anything more they could do."

Claire was moved to a hospice and Michele said she seemed at peace.

She said: "When I spoke to her she said she felt safe in the hospice, all the staff were amazing to her.

"She also made a memory box for Harley and did the things that people do when they know they haven't got long left."

Read More: Dublin mum fighting cancer is half way to €100,000 target for 'wonder drug'

Michele also confirmed that the money raised will be used to help others.

She said: "We never expected to raise £86,000, we never thought it would be that successful but I think people were just really touched by Claire and Harley both being so sick with such rare cancers at the same time.

"I did broach the subject about what would happen if she didn't get to use it for whatever reason, she said she wanted to help others.
"I've been speaking to her family and we will make an announcement about it later this week but it will probably go to a number of organisations helping people in a similar situation to Claire."

Michele paid tribute to business manager Claire and her incredible legacy.

She said: "I only knew her for a year but I think she'd like to know the money is helping people and for something good to have come from all this.

"Most of all though I think she'd want to be remembered for her incredible sense of humour."

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