Mother who lost teenager to rare cancer asks for help for boy with same disease

Auryn Phelan from Malahide has endured two major surgeries, 13 rounds of chemotherapy, 14 rounds of radiotherapy, two major surgeries and stem cell transplants

The mother of a teenage girl who lost her 12-year battle against a rare cancer is pleading with the public to help a six-year-old boy who is fighting the same deadly disease.

Bernadette Dornan’s daughter Robyn Smyth (15), who lived the majority of her life with neuroblastoma, inspired many with her determination to fight the fatal disease.

From Whitehall in Dublin, Robyn was diagnosed with the disease when she was three-years-old in 2007. The third-year secondary school student died on April 23rd this year surrounded by her family at home.

Robyn Smyth lived most of her life with neuroblastoma
Robyn Smyth lived most of her life with neuroblastoma

Despite her overwhelming grief, Bernadette has vowed to set-up a research centre to find treatments which could help to cure the devastating disease. She now wants to help Auryn Phelan from Malahide.

Auryn, along with his parents Trish and Barry Phelan, hopes to travel to the Slone Kettering Memorial hospital in New York, where Robyn attended for treatment which will cost €375,000. They aim to raise the massive amount by January next year.

Bernadette said: “I'm asking everyone who loved and supported Robyn to please continue doing so and honour my baby by supporting the little super hero Auryn. He is six-years-old.

“He is fighting neuroblastoma, which anyone who saw Robyn's fight knows how aggressive and unpredictable it can be. He needs your help now.

“He needs to get treatment abroad to give him every chance of fighting this relentless beast. I don't know Auryn's family but I feel their heartache and desperation as they fight for their child’s life. This should not be happening but it is so please don’t look away.

“Please if you can donate anything at all please do.”

Little Auryn has endured two major surgeries, 13 rounds of chemotherapy, 14 rounds of radiotherapy, two major surgeries and stem cell transplants.

The avid Avengers fan is nearing the end of his treatment in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. There is little of the disease left – however, there is a very high relapse rate for stage four neuroblastoma and few treatment options if it returns.

His parents hope to have him enrolled on a vaccine trial at Slone Kettering which Robyn took part in.

Trish added: “We just want to give Auryn back a normal healthy childhood and put this journey behind both him and us for good.

"This vaccine is not available in Ireland, so our only option is to travel overseas. It has had very promising phase one results and we will do everything in our power to save our wonderful boy and get Auryn this treatment.

“This cancer journey has impacted Auryn and our family so much and has taken such a toll on both Auryn's physical and mental wellbeing. Aside from all the horrible medical procedures, he has missed out on so much of his childhood in the last year - the simple things that people take for granted have been removed from him.

“He has endured medical procedure after medical procedure and has been surrounded by sadness and sometimes unspeakable horrors in hospital.”

The Phelans have set up the Auryn's Heroes fundraising campaign and are planning events in Trisha's native Co Mayo and Barry's native Co Sligo as well as in Dublin.

Donation details can be found on