A CAMPAIGN to fund pioneering cancer treatment for a Mayo native in the USA is going global, with comedian Russell Brand hitting the retweet button on Sunday night in support.
In 2007 the Gibbons family from Foxford saw lightening strike twice, in the most terrible way.
Two weeks after the birth of his only child, Darren Gibbons was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Three months later brother Keith received similar confirmation.
Thankfully, Darren responded well to treatment but Keith has since undergone three surgeries, radiotherapy and multiple courses of chemotherapy until in August this year, he was accepted into a clinical trial at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, Texas.
THEKPROJECT is a trust founded by the family and friends of Keith Gibbons, to support him financially during treatment in the US for his glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor.
Dr. Burzynski’s mission is to beat cancer by utilising cutting edge, gene-targeted, personalised cancer treatments for every patient.
THEKPROJECT is on its way to the €75,000 goal for this year’s treatment, but there is still much more to do.
Keith and his wife Brenda have to travel to Texas about three times during each year of treatment and are currently there receiving the first stage. Meanwhile, back home a number of fundraising events are kicking into gear over the coming weeks.
The family have received a massive amount of support from people all over Ireland and the UK and you can support
them in Galway city on October 28 at a gig in the rowing club. It’s €10 on the door and Mikey and The Scallywags are playing, along with guest DJs.
An event is planned in Foxford on November 5 in Cruiser’s bar, when a number of bands are playing for free. There’s also a great raffle with prizes like a 42-inch TV from bar owner Neil Cruise.
Other events in the pipeline but not confirmed include Dublin, Cornwall, London and Suffolk in the UK.
Other smaller but very welcome events include a nonschool uniform day in Claremorris on October 28, while a cake and tea party was held in Knock last Sunday.
In fundraising, the project is conscious not alone of medical costs but also flights and accommodation. And they must also be prepared for another year’s treatment too.
Any donation big or small is welcome and donations can be made direct using PayPal - http://thekproject.org/. Otherwise, you can donate through Ulster Bank, the k project, 98 54 55, Acc: 10538413, Claremorris.
People are also invited to organise their own fundraising events for this very worthy cause. There’s a Facebook page, which is regularly updated with new events, and you can follow Keith’s actual treatment on twitter - @thekproject.
Darren (36) and Keith (34) are sons of Jim Gibbons, Claremorris, and Marian Gibbons (nee Haran), Foxford, but now living in Ballinrobe. Marian was raised in Crossmolina while Jim Gibbons spent his childhood in Glenisland, Castlebar.
Along with sister Tara, the brothers were brought up in Foxford. Darren later studied in Letterkenny while Keith studied in Galway, where he now lives.
Darren’s tumour was diagnosed just after the birth of his child, Frankie. Darren worked as a civil engineer but sadly after brain injury sustained between the tumor and the surgery to remove it, he can no longer work on sites and dedicates his time raising funds for worthwhile charities such as the brain tumor support group and Quest, a brain injury centre.
Darren reacted well to his treatment and received his five-year scan last week and is still clear.
Darren, along with strong support from his friends such as Keith O’Conner, Brian Brennan and Enda Cunnane, has organised events such as The Burning Seamus in Claremorris, which has a strong following on Facebook and always brings a big crowd who come for a 24-hour mini music festival.
Keith knew something was wrong with him only three months after Darren was diagnosed. A scan confirmed a grade three tumor, and treatment followed.
In March 2010 Keith learnt the tumor had regrown and following an operation the growth was upgraded to grade four. Keith and his wife Brenda (Co. Clare) decided to look at other treatments, and came across the one in Texas.
Their health insurance would not pay for the treatment as it was still in the trial phase, even though it is a fraction of the cost of treating Keith in Ireland using toxic meds like chemo.
Keith works at Aerogen in Galway. At the moment he and Brenda are in Texas but they are due home within the next
few weeks to continue treatment.
A recent MRI showed no change, not a bad thing as his tumor is very aggressive, and the fact it hasn’t grown more is good new as he has been off chemo for nearly three months.