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Dad refused lifesaving cancer drug because he has no health insurance

A 41-year-old father-of-three is being denied potentially lifesaving drugs for a rare type of cancer because he has no health insurance.

Last June, James Hastings from Kinvara was told he had Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma or bile duct cancer. A fit and healthy man who runs the tyre company TyreAware in Ballindereen and is involved with Kinvara United FC, he went to the doctor after experiencing jaundice-like symptoms the day before his son Ben’s First Communion.

After sharing the devastating news, his oncologist further compounded the shock by telling him there was no treatment available other than palliative care to manage his symptoms for the end of his life.

“He basically said go enjoy your life, book a holiday, get ready to die,” reveals James, father of Eoin, 13, Ben, 9, and Joey, 4.

“When I said I wasn’t happy with only doing palliative care he told me the stance from the HSE for what I have is only palliative care – and if I wanted to do anything else I had to go research it myself and present them with any clinical trials out there.

“I was baffled by this. Surely the doctor is the expert. Since I went public on this there are so many people who have been treated like this; just left to fend for themselves.”

Just five per cent of people with this diagnosis are responsive to immunotherapy so he paid for private tests overseas to check the DNA of his cancer. He discovered that he fell into this tiny category.

But as he is a public patient, the HSE will not provide the drug which is currently not licenced in Ireland for his condition.

To contribute to James’ fundraising effort, go to

Photo: James Hastings.

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