26 Sept 2022

UPDATED: Ballymahon doctor's appeal for lifesaving treatment: 'I want to live a perfectly normal boring life'

Laura Noonan's Russian Lifeline

Laura Noonan

Archie O'Connor and his wife, Laura Noonan with their daughter, Freya Lilly

Since setting up a campaign to raise €70,000 for lifesaving treatment in Russia, Ballymahon-based doctor, Laura Noonan, is thrilled with the level of support that she has received.

The GoFundMe campaign was set up on Sunday, September 3 last, and has since been shared over 2,000 times on Facebook, and seen more than eight hundred people raise over €41,000 in the space of four days. This 

In a heartfelt thank you, Laura said that she had worried that she would never raise the money she needs for treatment, but the generosity of people has given her hope.

"To all of you who have donated I want to express my sincerest thanks. Every Euro matters. Every Euro gets me closer to what I hope will be a miracle treatment in Russia," she said.

"The donations you have made will hopefully mean a recovery for me and then we can get some normality back in our lives. I don't think we know what normal is any more but I'm looking forward to trying it out!"

Original Article:

The husband of Ballymahon-based doctor, Laura Noonan, has appealed to the public for help in raising the funds to take his wife to Russia where she has been offered life-saving chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

The trouble is, travel costs money, as does the life-saving treatment that Laura needs. So her husband, Archie O'Connor, has set up a GoFundMe page in an attempt to raise as much of the €70k fee that the family will need to save Laura's life.

"Laura desperately requires chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, this treatment is not available for Laura in Ireland. She has been accepted to hospital in Russia under the care of a specialist Haematologist where she will receive this treatment. This is currently the last treatment option available for Laura," Archie explains on his GoFundMe campaign.

"Your help would be hugely appreciated by all of us. Any donation, of any amount, will go towards the hospital treatment fees and stay in Russia. There is no funding available at all towards this treatment from the HSE or her private health insurance.

"She has been down many treatment avenues to date and as her medical problems are many and complex she has been unsuitable for many conventional treatments. No treatment that she has received to date has been successful or halted disease progress.

"She is suffering severe side effects from the different treatments she has received to date. She will now be stopping some of her current treatments in order to have a drug washout period to allow her to commence intensive treatment in Moscow."

Laura, according to her husband, has always been a very private person, so her illness will come as a shock to many that know her. And going public with her condition is in itself difficult for her.

"My personal motto was always 'Get up, dress up and show up'. I'm sure there will be many who are surprised to hear what the past few years have held for us," Laura explains on the GoFundMe campaign page.

"I have on more than one occasion left hospital and immediately attended a work or social event. I even did a TV interview straight from the Mater Hospital in Dublin to RTE studios! Unforunately things really started to catch up with me this year and I have had to majorly slow down."

The past few years have been difficult not only for Laura and her husband, but for their daughter Freya too, who has only ever seen her mother sick.

"Laura first became really unwell when Freya was about 6 weeks old. This means that Freya has grown up knowing nothing but sickness," Archie explains.

"We are lucky we have a good support network and family around to help us. I look back and sometimes wonder how we have survived the last 5 years but then look at Freya, a well adjusted, confident, outgoing little girl and think we have done well despite it all.

"When Laura is in hospital, weeks can go by without Freya being allowed to see her. ICU is a scary place for anyone to visit but particularly for a small child. I don't know how Laura can survive this but she asks for Freya every day regardless of how sick she may be and comforts herself with photographs and telephone calls.

"Thankfully up to this, Freya's sense of time is poor as she is so young. She is starting to understand the concept of time a little better and will be harder to dismiss her questions about how many sleeps until Mammy is home?"

The family has now reached a point where they need the public's help. In order to travel to Russia, Archie will have to take a significant amount of time off work, where they will spend approximately one month in Moscow. But that will only be the start of the journey, Archie says.

"Recovery after a successful stem cell transplant is likely to take up to two years. She will have a long road after coming home but we hope that will be the end of treatments for her. It is not an easy decision to come to, leaving Ireland for treatment abroad but one that has not been made lightly.

"We are at the end of a very long road and hope that this is the final step on the current road and the first step on a Russian Road to Recovery," he adds.

In her own note on the campaign, Laura explains that she has exhausted all of her treatment options in Ireland and this is her only chance at getting better.

"There have been excellent results to date and people have been doing very well after chemo and stem cells. I am a little more complex than most as I have more than one medical diagnosis but I still hope that I will benefit hugely," she says.

"A sobering fact about this treatment is that there have been deaths directly related to this treatment. This is a fact I was armed with making the decision to go for this treatment. In a way it's probably harder for family and friends to accept that risk."

But with such a poor quality of life that prevents Laura from enjoying or even attending family results, it was an important decision.

"I hope that by trusting the Doctors and treatment I have been offered will offer me a second chance at living the life I want to live. The life I want to live is my old life," says Laura.

"All I want is to be able to live a normal, boring, mundane life. I want to know that when I wake up in the morning I will be able to leave the house.I want to dress Freya in the mornings, put pretty bows in her hair, I want to make sandwiches and drive her to school.

"I want to stand in the school yard with other parents and wave her into class. I want go to work every day. I want to cook a meal. I want to bring Freya for walks or to the playground, I want to do her homework with her. I want to be able to stay up at night until my husband comes home from work and actually have a conversation where I don't fall asleep. I want to live a perfectly normal boring life.

"I want to actively participate in life. I am fed up of being a spectator.

"Please help send me to Russia so I may hopefully get to experience a normal life, so that I get to be a mother to Freya again and so that I can be a person again instead of a patient."

The GoFundMe campaign was set up on Sunday and, in the space of just three days, the family has received overwhelming support.

The target goal is €70,000 and within three days has already reached almost €14,00, with over €4,000 being raised in the amount of time it took to write this article.

A continuation of that support will see Laura taking one step closer to recovery.

To donate, visit the campaign, Laura's Russian Lifeline on GoFundMe.

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