Twenty year old James Gill has “one last chance left” at survival. He has been told there is “nothing more” that can be done in Ireland to save him, the only opportunity remaining involves an €80,000 clinical trial treatment in America.
James, the son of Drumsna’s Declan Gill and grandson of PJ and Mary Gill of Coolcreeve, Drumsna, has been “to hell and back” for the past two years, after he was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer.
Brave James has spent his last three birthdays 18th, 19th and 20th in hospital receiving treatment. The disease has taken over the bright young man’s life who had ambitions to become a doctor. Treatment and set backs have meant his study has been impacted, he can no longer play for his local soccer team or even do most things that a young lad of 20 usually does.
James has a rare form of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.
In 2011 he commenced chemotherapy with three different types of drugs, during which he had to be admitted to hospital several times. He also underwent chemo embolization to his liver lesions.
He had surgery in 2011 and 2012, unfortunately after the second surgery, the CT scan “showed further progression of disease.”
At this point his doctor Ray McDermott applied for funding from the HSE to allow James to go to Memorial Sioan Kettering Cancer Center in New York for a clinical trial drug. However the applications were denied on two occasions.
It is understood the HSE will not provide funding for a treatment which is on trial.
James started a new chemotherapy drug on October 24 last year which he had to stop as it was “no longer working.” He recently commenced a new treatment which he will have for the next 3 months, but his grandmother Mary explained to the Leitrim Observer that James is very unwell at the moment he is “very weak and in pain.” She added that he received “four pints of blood” last week and the “drain on his liver is not healing properly.”
Mary said they have “tried every trick, there is nothing more we can do,” this trial treatment in New York is the “one last chance left.” Not only is this trial drug his only opportunity but it is “urgently” needed.
The quicker the treatment can be provided the sooner the results. Mary Gill acknowledged that they do not know if this expensive process can cure him, but the family must do everything they can to try and fight the disease.
According to Niamh Kiernan Oncology nurse for Dr Ray McDermott, “James and his family have remained very strong throughout this difficult journey. He has very supportive parents and any fundraising efforts would be of huge benefit to James at this time.”
Mary said it is hard to believe that the six foot young man only received pains in his side three years ago. At the time she said it was thought he had problems with his appendix or gallstones, until all the scans revealed “the worst of the worst.”
The rare form of liver cancer occurs in only one in every million, according to Mary Gill.
James is the oldest of four children Stephen, Carl and Holly who live with their parents Declan and Cora in Rathfarnham, Dublin, As the oldest Mary said James puts on a “brave face.”
The treatment James needs cannot commence until the funds are in place. Mary said the figure of €80,000 is “too big of a mountain” for the family.
She said they are willing to take out a loan for the treatment, but they would not be able to get such a large amount. The grandmother said the “doctors are baffled” by the disease and the distress of not knowing is tough on all of the family. “It has been a hell of a situation, it keeps coming back bigger and crosser.”
For years James played underage soccer with Broadford Rovers. Because of his illness he cannot move up the ranks and play senior for his club.
Broadford Rovers is organising a benefit night on April 10 as well as activities over that weekend in the hope a huge amount of funds cant be raised
The family are desperately seeking help to fundraise for James treatment, an account has been opened in Bank of Ireland, Dundrum under the name James Gill Cancer Fund. Account No: 20193524. Branch code: 901095.
Any donation small or large will be appreciated.
Before his illness James had taken part in a number of benefits and charitable events, he actively participated in “Shave of Dye” and his grandmother said he was “always raising money for something” playing charity soccer games, participating in pub quizzes - “Little did he know he would need people’s help in the future for himself.”
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