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'Sickening' to ask parents to raise 'life-saving' funds


Conor and mum Margaret

Conor and mum Margaret

Conor and mum Margaret

A father who lost his son to cancer has said that "frightening" parents into raising hundreds of thousands of euro to travel to the US for potentially life-saving treatments as "absolutely sickening".

John Foley has issued a plea to the public to help raise money for cancer research instead.

John and his wife Margaret, from Co Meath, watched as their "beautiful and happy" son Conor battled a rare childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, three times before he died last year at the age of 17.

"We went to the ends of the world in every country for a cure or a special tablet for Conor but there was nothing, and believe me there is still nothing 16 months on," said John.

"There has been no official trial to prove conclusively that any drug prevents relapse for neuroblastoma, so the idea of people scaremongering and frightening vulnerable parents of these kids to have to raise €300,000 to €500,000 for treatment in the US is absolutely sickening.

"Money should be going to research so we can find a cure and save our kids.

"Crumlin Hospital in Dublin is a centre of excellence and has worldwide consultants."

John said he understands that parents would do "absolutely anything" to help save their child.

"We need to raise the hundreds of thousands of euro into research for neuroblastoma rather than clinical trials," he said.

Margaret said no family should be told "there's no more that we can do for your child, but if you raise €300,000 you could try and save your child in the US".

Conor was four when he was first diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma.

"It's such an indescribable shock as a parent to be told that your child has cancer. Our life as a family was turned upside down," said Margaret.

Conor's family did everything they could to help him.

He underwent intensive treatment that included six months of chemotherapy, a marrow transplant and 25 radiotherapy sessions followed by another six months of intense treatment within two years.