The family of a baby girl with a rare and aggressive form of cancer are trying to raise €500,000 for her treatment in the US.
At only five weeks old, 11-month-old Clodagh Daly was diagnosed with stage 4-S neuroblastoma – an aggressive form of cancer that targets the central nervous system.
Her parents, John and Tammy Daly, are now trying to raise funds to enable Clodagh to travel to the US to avail of a wider range of treatment options in the event of a relapse.
Neuroblastoma is the most common type of cancer in children under the age of two and accounts for 15pc of cancer deaths in children.
Ten cases of it are diagnosed in Ireland every year and 70 pc of sufferers relapse.
“The likelihood of Clodagh relapsing is quite high,” said her 32-year-old father John, “But as the treatment options in Ireland are very limited, we may have to go to the US ”
"There are a number of clinics that offer advanced, experimental therapy but many ask for a deposit of $350,000 before you even set foot in the place.”
Portlaoise-based John and Tammy (33) brought their daughter to the GP when she was unable to keep down her bottle feeds in the first few weeks after her birth. She was immediately referred to the Coombe Hospital - where she was born - and then on to Crumlin Children's Hospital for an ultrasound.
“The problem she had with her stomach was actually nothing to do with the cancer,” said John, a soldier based at Curragh barracks, adding that it was fortuitous that Clodagh was diagnosed so early.
“It was just a total coincidence... she could have went another six months without the cancer being diagnosed. We were lucky in that way.”
With additional screening, the doctor found a tumour on her adrenaline gland which turned out to be neuroblastoma. It spread to her liver and spleen.
Clodagh’s cancer is at its most advanced stage but she also has a gene mutation (N-Myc) cancer that is extremely aggressive.
Since January of this year, Clodagh has been receiving rigorous bouts of chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy.
She has also undergone surgery to have her primary tumour removed.
“The tumour itself so deep so the operation was quite invasive. Without her vest on, she has a scar running from her bellybutton right up her body,” said John, who also has a ten-year-old son, Ben.
Tammy, who used to work as a cleric with the HSE, has taken a career break to look after baby Clodagh, who is still undergoing immunotherapy treatment.
Says John: “Clodagh is being given morphine for the pain but, while this is meant to help her, she gets severe reactions to the painkiller.”
Despite the limited treatment available in Ireland, John has commended the medics who have been looking after his daughter thus far.
“The care she is getting here in Ireland is absolutely fantastic,” he said.
Clodagh celebrates her 1st birthday on 31 October.
The Clodagh Daly Trust has been set up to raise funds for Clodagh’s treatment and can be accessed at facebook.com/clodaghdalytrust.
Donations can also be directly placed at http://www.idonate.ie/973_the-clodagh-daly-trust.html.