Mum races against time to raise €300k for brave Robyn
A Dublin mother is facing a daunting race against time to raise €300,000 in just four weeks to cover the costs of a ground-breaking vaccine trial for her daughter.
As things stand, brave Robyn Smyth (10), who suffers from neuroblastoma and who has battled childhood cancer since the age of three, has just a five per cent chance of survival.
Although the youngster was declared disease-free for the first time in early 2009, she relapsed less than two years ago when a tumour broke through her jaw bone and the cancer quickly spread to her spine, legs and pelvis.
Since then she has undergone eight rounds of chemotherapy, along with radiation treatment and more recently immunotherapy at Crumlin Children's Hospital.
Her mother, Bernadette Dornan from Whitehall in north Dublin, now faces an anxious wait for scan results to determine if Robyn's cancer is in remission.
But she said she has renewed hope after identifying a programme for young relapsed neuroblastoma patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York - the world's oldest and largest dedicated cancer hospital - which her daughter will be eligible for if her scan results are clear.
Encouragingly, 13 of the 15 children who have undergone the year-long treatment programme, which involves seven vaccinations, have remained in remission.
But Bernadette faces a colossal challenge to secure a place for her daughter on the trial, as she has to raise €525,000 to cover the medical fees.
Although she has already raised around €200,000, she still needs to find more than €300,000 in just four weeks to guarantee Robyn's treatment at the hospital next month.
"I've no option but to take Robyn to New York, because her treatment has finished in Ireland and there's nothing more the doctors can do for her here.
"At the moment there's a 95pc chance she could relapse and that could happen at any time," she said.
"The cancer could come back at any moment, so I somehow have to raise the rest of the money in just four weeks to get her to New York. I'm certain it's the best option for her at this stage," she added.
Bernadette, who also has a three-year-old daughter, Millie, with her partner, Leighton Smyth, said: "I don't know how I'm going to do it, but failure isn't an option for me, because this is about saving my little girl's life."
Anyone who would like to donate should go to http://www.idonate.ie/1011_robyn--s-life.html. Also, see Robyns Life on Facebook.