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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s plea: ‘Please help save my life’

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A 40-year-old Ballinasloe mother has launched a public appeal for donations to undergo immunotherapy as a last-ditch attempt to save her life.

Primary school teacher Audrey Morgan Kindregan was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011. She underwent a radical hysterectomy and internal radiation or brachytherapy but the cancer returned over two years later.

She was treated with a grueling course of chemotherapy, radiation and brachytherapy. By 2016 she learned the disease had struck yet again when she noticed abnormal bleeding. This time she had reached the limit of radiation and chemo so her medical team had no choice but to go down a radical surgical route.

The pelvic exenteration surgery involved removing all female reproductive organs, in addition to her bladder, urethra and all tissue in the pelvic cavity and necessitated her having a urostomy, which allows urine to exit the body via a stoma in the stomach.

Recovery from the life-changing operation was slow and complicated as Audrey was hit with many complications, including kidney blockages and lymphedema

Last May she received the dreaded news that two cancer tumours and cancer spots had been detected.

“I just couldn’t believe it. My family couldn’t believe it and my poor son was terribly shocked and affected by this traumatizing news. My heart went out to Oisin, my poor boy who has seen enough cancer in a small few years to last him a lifetime. My options at this stage were limited to one – palliative chemotherapy.”

After one session she decided against continuing the chemo due to its harsh effects on her already depleted immune system. She feels she has no option but to undergo an immunotherapy treatment called Pembrolizumab.

“Immunotherapy is a ground-breaking way of treating cancer because unlike chemotherapy it doesn’t spread through the body like poison killing both good and bad cells. Instead, it works with your immune system in building an immunity to fight against cancer. Researchers feel that the future of the fight against cancer lies in immunotherapy.”

Unlike in the USA, immunotherapy is not yet licensed in Ireland for cervical cancer patients so the HSE are extremely reluctant to fund it. There is no current clinical trial here.

“Essentially my hands are tied with regard to accessing the drug,” Audrey reflects.

A fortnight ago she launched a plea on a crowd funding website for help in paying for immunotherapy, which costs in the region of €8,500 per session and is carried out once every three weeks.

Since the diagnosis, she has been forced to take long leaves of absence from her teaching job at Scoil an Chroí Naofa in Ballinasloe. Her husband Shane is an aircraft maintenance engineer who had to transfer from Galway Airport to Dublin Airport when the former closed down in 2013. He lives in Dublin during the week returning at weekends to be with Audrey and their son Oisin, 12, at their home in Ballymacward.

“It’s far from ideal but just because a person gets cancer, doesn’t mean the bills stop coming through the door. In actual fact they increase your monthly family costs through the addition of medical costs, medication, therapeutic equipment, travel to appointments, childcare for Oisin and the list goes on. I have been receiving no pay for the most part of my struggle,” she reveals.

“This is a very difficult task for me to ask people to donate to a fund in a bid to save my life.”

So far €55,000 has been raised in under a fortnight. She has set a target of €150,000.

“The way the page took off has me in awe. People have been so kind with their love, their words, their time and their money. I’m overwhelmed when I look at the page,” she admits.

Audrey has just spent two weeks in University Hospital Galway and has been transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin under the care of a new consultant who is willing to prescribe the drug privately.

“As soon as my situation improves they will start the immunotherapy – hopefully this week and I’ll have my first dose over by the time I’m leaving St Vincent’s Hospital. The treatment goes on indefinitely.

“I had a really bad weekend and nobody thought I’d see the opportunity to get any immunotherapy but I’ve a fight in me.”

■ Donations can be made on gofundme.

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Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area

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A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’

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Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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