Monday 16 July 2018

Seriously-ill grandmother to enjoy bucket list trip to Ireland thanks to kind-hearted Irish stranger

Irish-American grandmother Kathryn Doyon is excited to fulfill a lifelong wish to visit Ireland
Irish-American grandmother Kathryn Doyon is excited to fulfill a lifelong wish to visit Ireland
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A grandmother with stage four cancer is set to have her dream to visit Ireland come true thanks to the generosity of an Irish stranger.

Pauline McDermott said that when she heard the story of Irish-American woman Kathryn Doyon, who is suffering from colon and liver cancer, she "just knew" she had to help.

Kathryn (54) told Independent.ie how her world was turned upside when she received the devastating diagnosis in December 2016.

Kathryn, who is from Plymouth in Massachusetts, explained: "I went for a routine colonoscopy on December 27 2016 and honestly I had been putting it off because colon cancer doesn't run in my family so I wasn't worried.

"The very next day I got a call to say that they had found some cancer but I was reassured it could probably be reassured with an operation and it would be fine.

"I then had a Cat Scan, which was when they found ten to twelve grape sized tumours in my liver, it was so spread out that they couldn't just operate on it."

Mother-of-three Kathryn underwent twelve chemotherapy sessions over the next twelve months and although she says she "responded really well" to the treatment, she has been told that she will never be cancer free.

Kathryn said she is all too aware of statistics that just 50 per cent of patients with stage four colon cancer survive to two years after diagnosis and by five years this figures drops further to around 11 pc.

Cavan woman Pauline McDermott is fundraising to help Kathryn Doyon visit Ireland
Cavan woman Pauline McDermott is fundraising to help Kathryn Doyon visit Ireland

Kathryn said that when she became unwell one of the things she knew she wanted to do was visit Ireland.

She explained that her great-great-grandparents emigrated to the US during the famine from Galway, Sligo, Kerry, Louth, Cork, Limerick, Monaghan and Donegal and her family have always been proud of their roots.

"My mother was always proud to be Irish and we're very into our history.

"I've always wanted to go to Ireland but I could never afford it before with the work I had as a school bus driver."

Kathryn is a fan of the popular Ireland of a Thousand Welcomes Facebook page, which is run by Cavan woman Pauline McDermott, who has shown what a good Samaritan she is.

Pauline told Independent.ie: "It's a page I run as a hobby, where I share pictures of beautiful Irish scenery, clothes, recipes, jewellery, all sorts of things.

"When I put up a nice picture of Ireland the other day Kathryn commented underneath that she would love to visit Ireland one day but she didn't know if she could as she has stage four cancer.

"Over the years I have had so many people contacting the page saying they would like to visit Ireland but there was something about her story that just stuck in my head and I knew I had to help her if I could."

Pauline shared a post on the Ireland of a Thousand Welcomes account asking people whether they would be interested in helping to make Kathryn's wish come true and within hours they'd already raised more than €600 through a GoFundMe account and people have also volunteered services such as transportation and accommodation.

Kathryn said she is overwhelmed by the support, saying: "I'm feeling good at the moment but who knows what could happen, I'll never be cured but there's no point waiting until I'm sicker.

"At the moment I'm taking things one step at a time, I'm applying for my passport and hopefully I can go at the end of April."

Kathryn hopes to visit sites such as Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry during her trip, she will also be meeting Pauline.

Kathryn said: "I'm definitely surprised that people want to help a complete stranger, it's amazing and I'm so grateful."

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