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Louth man raffles his Dundalk home for best friend’s son to get life saving treatment in US

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Stephen Woods Kirk with his mum Jean and her friend Gordon who has put his own home up for raffle to raise funds for Stephen's treatment

Stephen Woods Kirk with his mum Jean and her friend Gordon who has put his own home up for raffle to raise funds for Stephen's treatment

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Stephen Woods Kirk with his mum Jean and her friend Gordon who has put his own home up for raffle to raise funds for Stephen's treatment

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The mum of an 18-year-old boy currently battling stage 4 brain stem cancer said she was “overwhelmed by the generosity” of a friend who is raffling his Dundalk apartment to help fund her son’s life saving treatment in the US.

Jean Woods told The Argus how “incredibly grateful” she is for the support of her best friend Gordon Kenny, who has put his home, a two bed apartment off the Newry Road in Dundalk, up for raffle in order to raise funds for her son’s ongoing treatment.

She recalls the devastating terminal diagnosis her son Stephen was given last Christmas after he was admitted to hospital suffering seizures with chronic headaches and neck pain.

“He was admitted to the Lourdes Hospital after they discovered a large mass on his brain, and was rushed to the Beaumont for a nineteen hour surgery to remove the tumour. He had just turned 18 the week before, it was just horrendous to see him like that.”

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Although the operation had been a success, removing 95% of the tumour, Jean was told her son had terminal brain cancer, which despite radiation treatment might take his life within months.

“They said Stephen would have a short life as there was no cure for brain cancer, especially where it was in the stem of his brain. I was just devastated, but I didn’t want to cry in front of Stephen, We got him home after the surgery, with sixteen staples in his head, having lost his peripheral vision and likely to end up in a wheelchair as a result of the radiation.”

“But I knew I couldn’t give up on him.”

Jean, who worked as a double decker bus driver in Dundalk before she had to give up work to care for her son,- began an extensive search for any available treatments in the US or Europe, to gauge if there was any hope for Stephen.

She discovered a doctor in Texas who had been offering cancer treatments for over thirty years, and after much research, and the launch of a Gofundme appeal, Jean secured an appointment for Stephen and they set off with renewed hope on a flight to the US.

“Stephen was really ill at that point, he took two massive seizures when we landed, I nearly lost him there. His tumour had grown back to 12 centimetres It felt like this was our last hope.”

The treatment got under way in Texas, but requires a monthly prescription at extortionate costs.

“I can’t get his medication here in Ireland, as they won’t give it to him as long as he is on the bag they fitted in Texas.”

But Jean says the treatment has had very visible benefits, with Stephen now walking again, going for a cycle, and gaining two and a half stone to get back to his normal weight.

“We have booked to go back to Texas in September for further treatment, which they recommended should continue for two years.”

Jean adds that she came across a similar case, a teenage boy from Donegal, who is receiving the same treatment, and has had a significant shrinkage in his tumour.

“Losing Stephen is just not an option for me, I will fight for him whatever it takes.”

Her best friend Gordon Kenny, from Tallanstown, who she said “has been a tremendous help to us throughout all of this” offered to raffle his own home to raise funds for Stephen’s treatment.

“It is so incredibly generous, especially as this was Gordon’s home for the last ten years. I would be lost without him, he’s been my best friend since we were teenagers.”

Gordon explained that he decided to raffle his two bedroomed apartment in order to help Stephen’s battle, and help Jean face the medical bills which range from $17,000 to $30,000 US dollars a month for 18 months to 24 months.

He added that he was “hoping to raise as much money as possible to give them a fighting chance of beating this terrible disease.”

“With property and rental prices on the rise, this is a chance for someone to win a new home for themselves to make amazing memories in, or to generate a new source of income simply by renting it out. Purchasing a ticket will not only give someone a chance of winning this life changing prize, but also help this young, 18 year old get one step closer to affording his treatment.”

The property will only be awarded to the winner if a minimum of 55,000 tickets are sold. If less than 55,000 tickets are sold, the winner will receive a cash prize amounting to 50% of the total ticket revenue and the balance will be used for Stephen’s treatment. Every ticket purchased helps the family get closer to their target.

Enter the raffle here.


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