Sunday 25 February 2018

Legacy of brave mum who died after €100k fundraiser continues as money donated to charity

Claire Graham with son Harley
Claire Graham with son Harley

Kathy Armstrong

The legacy of a brave Irish mum who passed away after raising almost €100,000 for pioneering cancer treatment will continue as the cash will be split between three of her chosen charities.

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 last month.

Her friend Michele Trapiche set up the JustGiving page to pay for the treatment and Claire knew she wanted it to be given to a good cause if she couldn't use it.

Michele said: "Claire was pragmatic and said she wanted the money to go to organisations that helped others in a similar situation if, for any reason, she couldn’t use it.

Claire Graham with son Harley and husband Declan. Photo: Edel O’Malley
Claire Graham with son Harley and husband Declan. Photo: Edel O’Malley

"She didn’t hesitate - that was what she wanted and so we had an agreement that we hoped we would never have to use.

"The JustGiving page was active for 30 days and during that time Claire was receiving chemotherapy.

"This was a 'holding' type of treatment that we hoped would keep the cancer at bay until the page closed and we could access the money to pay for the drugs that would give her the best possible chance.

"Unfortunately, the chemotherapy made Claire ill and, despite the treatment, the cancer continued to advance.

"Shortly after the page closed and we had the money ready to purchase the drugs, Claire’s Consultant advised the family that she was now too ill to undergo further treatment. This was a devastating blow.

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

"None of us had anticipated that so much would change in just 6 weeks. So, it is with a heavy heart that I find myself in a position where the money isn’t going to fund Claire’s treatment. "

Michele, who is based in Manchester, continued to say: "In the past few days, with Declan (Claire’s husband) and the family’s agreement, the money has been distributed in accordance with Claire’s wishes but with an amount reserved to pay for Claire’s funeral and a modest fund set aside for her young son, Harley.

"The remainder (and bulk) of her legacy has therefore been donated as follows:- Team Verrico, Prevent Breast Cancer and Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services, Harold’s Cross, Dublin."

She explained that Team Verrico provided invaluable advice and support to Claire and her family throughout her illness. 

The money given to Prevent Breast Cancer will specifically fund research into Triple Negative Breast Cancer as there are no preventative treatments in that area.

The remainder will be donated to Our Lady's Hospice and Care Services, where Claire spent her final weeks.

Michele commented: "It was my privilege to be part of this fundraising campaign for Claire, and whilst it was too late to help her, the money donated to the various causes are her legacy and I know she would be proud of what we achieved."

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