The parents of a six-year-old boy who is battling a rare form of cancer say they want to give their superhero son “a normal childhood”.
ittle Auryn Phelan, from Malahide, Co Dublin – a massive fan of the Avengers superheroes – has endured 13 rounds of chemotherapy, two major surgeries, stem cell transplants and 14 rounds of radiotherapy.
As he nears the end of his treatment in Crumlin Children’s Hospital, there is little disease left.
However, stage four neuroblastoma has an extremely high relapse rate and there are few treatment options if it returns. Tragically, survival rates are low.
His parents are now fundraising to get him a place on a clinical trial in the US.
“He has been surrounded by sadness, unspeakable horrors in hospital and endured medical procedure after procedure. We just want to give Auryn back a normal, healthy childhood,” said his mum Trisha Gibbons.
“Aside from all the horrible 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 denied to him.
“Auryn is a gorgeous, energetic, funny, lovable boy who just wants to be a child and do what children do.
“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,” she added.
While the country endured lockdown, Auryn has had to face his own lockdown since he was diagnosed at just four-years-old.
That means no playdates with his friends and being unable to do simple, every-day things liking going to the shop.
“Due to his compromised immune system and constant risk of infection, we were required to keep him indoors, out of school and away from other children,” said Trisha.
She and her husband Barry Phelan have set themselves the task of raising 375,000 by next January to enable Auryn to take part in a vaccine trial at the Slone Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York. All funds raised will go towards his treatment.
A GoFundMe appeal online has already raised more than 60,000.
“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.”
The family have set up the Auryn’s Heroes fundraising campaign and are planning a series of events in Trisha’s native Co Mayo and Barry’s native Co Sligo as well as in Dublin.
They are also encouraging people to sign up for the virtual Vhi Virtual Women’s Mini Marathon in October and run it in aid of Auryn’s Heroes.
A separate 2km virtual Children’s Superhero Walk, which will see children don their favourite superhero costumes and raise money, is also planned by Auryn’s Heroes in October.
“We just want to give Auryn back a normal healthy childhood and put this journey behind both him and us for good. We are incredibly grateful to the people of our home counties of Mayo and Sligo, as well as our adopted home of Dublin, and indeed the country for the support and generosity you have shown to us,” said Trisha.
Full details of how to donate and fundraise can be found at aurynsheroes.ie.