A well-known Athlone man who is battling liver cancer has paid a glowing tribute to the goodwill of his fellow townspeople in the midst of an ongoing fundraising campaign to help meet the costs of his treatment.
Tony Connaughton from Monksland was dealt a bolt from the blue in January when a routine scan showed up liver cancer and a tumour – with an initial diagnosis that there was little that could be done.
Since then, he had been undergoing chemotherapy as part of a treatment programme co-ordinated by Galway Clinic and the Cancer Treatment Hospital in Atlanta, and which has included a number of trips to America.
The goal of the current treatment programme is to prepare him for a new form of cancer treatment that uses irradiated glass beads to treat the cancer in the specific area.
Tony has been overwhelmed by the level of support for him and his family since he was first diagnosed with liver cancer.
“From the start, when people got to find out about me, the goodwill, the phone calls, the calls to the house, the letters and the cards have been incredible,” he said.
The fundraising campaign, which includes a GoFundMe page as well as a number of other individual fundraising events, aims to raise a substantial amount of money.
He said he never thought the fundraising drive would be possible and readily admits that he was physically unable to conceive that such a level of financial support would be forthcoming for him.
“There are several projects going on that I never thought would be possible. I wasn't able to compute in my mind that something like this would happen.
“Regardless what is the outcome of this, it doesn't take or could never take from how good people have been and continue to be to me and my family since this happened.”
Admitting that he is humbled by the support, Tony says his outlook on life has been changed.
Looking back over the last few months, Tony explained that after the initial diagnosis, he obtained a second opinion in America.
“I went out to America for a month and did a whole lot of tests, did a mini procedure which wasn't successful, but they highlighted other avenues I could go down.
“They are hoping that I do have some options. It's given me a bit of hope, given me something to hang onto. However, the significance of that is that the financial costs involved, which are substantial, are beyond my means.”
His family explained on the GoFundMe page that Tony is currently unfit for this specific procedure, but with a higher dosage of the current chemotherapy tablets, it is hoped he will get to a place where the cancer has subsided enough to go ahead with this new treatment.
Tony, in particular, thanked his family, his wife Bernie and children, Robert, Owen, Brian and Clare, his siblings, and his mother, Lena, for their support. He paid tribute to his colleagues in the Gertie’s Golf Society, for their help. A keen golfer, Tony was one of the founders of Gertie’s Golf Society and is the current captain.
He also thanked everyone for their support. “I would like to personally thank all who helped in any of the fundraising events and all who contributed to these events.”
For further details or to donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/tony-connaughton-fundraising-page
The TC Golf Classic is being held in Athlone Golf Club on Friday, May 17. Entry for a team of four is €200. Meal for all golfers. For time sheet contact 085 1401876. Sponsorship of tees and greens is welcome.
A benefit night will be held in Shine’s Bar, Baylough, on Friday, May 31 from 8.30pm to late. Tickets €10 each. Free finger food and music by DJ Ray O’Reilly. Spot prizes during the night, sponsored by local businesses.
Photographer Aidan Connaughton will set up a mobile studio in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel on Sunday, May 19, from 12 noon to 6pm to provide professionally taken photos, printed on 8x6 in cardboard mounts. All money raised will go directly to the GoFundMe page. www.connaughtonphotography.ie