The mother of a 26-year-old woman who suffers from a compromised airway and is unable eat solid food, has appealed to the Cavan and Leitrim community to assist in their family’s efforts in raising urgent funds to assist with the costs of seeking medical treatment for her daughter in the United States.
After receiving treatment for a malignant tumour which affected the area of her pharynx in 2005, Mary Philbin from Blacklion suffered from severe side-effects as a result of radiation therapy. Unable to swallow solid foods and breathe comfortably, Mary’s health has been deteriorating steadily in the last year. Mary’s hearing and speech has also been damaged due to the treatment.
Mary is now aspirating (liquid entering lungs) each time she swallows. If Mary does not receive treatment for these very severe side-affects, her lungs will suffer permanent damage.
Last month, Mary embarked on a week long journey by sea to North Carolina via Rosslare, Fishguard, Southampton and New York where she will meet with Doctor Christopher Sullivan who she hopes will improve her quality of life.
The young woman was restricted to travelling by sea because of a problem with her ear which was also caused by the treatment. Mary is currently in New York and is recovering from the seven day trans-Atlantic journey before travelling on to North Carolina.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer last week, Mary’s mother Eileen Philbin described the distress Mary and her family have gone through. “Mary’s quality of life has been seriously compromised even down to her most basic needs such as breathing and eating. The two things in life that we all take for granted are having the ability to eat and breathe easily.
You can just imagine how frustrating it is for her when I’m preparing a meal for the family none, of which she will be able to consume due to severe narrowing of her throat as a result of treatment.”
Mary’s situation is so serious that she is restricted to living on liquid nutritional drinks for each of her meals. Previously, Mary underwent surgery regularly to help her to swallow and breathe more easily, however, surgery is now deemed to be too high of a risk, due to the deterioration in Mary’s health over the past year.
It was decided that Mary’s best chance of improving her quality of life was to seek treatment abroad. The family have approached the HSE for assistance with costs, however, to date, they have not received any commitment from the organisation. With travel and accommodation bills stacking up and medical bills soon to be added, Eileen has urged the Leitrim and Cavan public to get behind her daughter’s cause.
A special bank account has been set up at the Bank of Ireland in Manorhamilton, while tickets for a special raffle to take place in the near future will go on sale throughout the region along with other events yet to be confirmed.
Eileen continues: “Any donations possible are greatly appreciated no matter what the size. It has been such an exhausting and stressful time for us and as you can imagine the costs are quite large.”
Eileen, who works with the Leitrim Development Company, has thanked her colleagues and employer who she says have supported her throughout. She said: “My colleagues have been fantastic and I cannot show my appreciation for them enough. They have all been so supportive in every way possible.”
The Mary Philbin treatment fund account is now open at Bank of Ireland, Manorhamilton. Account number: 18987405 sort code: 90-54-08.