Community support gives Kevin a chance to live

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Kevin Bourke undergoing chemotherapy treatment

THE community in Newport has banded together to help raise €100,000 for a 29-year-old sports fan who has a rare form of inoperable cancer.

by April Drew
[email protected]

Kevin Bourke, who was diagnosed with thymic squamous cell carcinoma last year, needs immunotherapy treatment as soon as possible to give him a fighting chance at life. He is currently on round three of a four round cycle of chemotherapy but it’s not enough.

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Kevin’s body isn’t able for more chemo and now needs to switch to immunotherapy treatment. The cost per infusion is €8,085 and he will need a minimum of eight infusions for it to be effective.

The treatment, which works on the immune system to fight the disease, is not as hard on the system as chemo and doesn’t have as many nasty side effects.

After Kevin’s application for funding was rejected by the HSE, a ‘Go Fund Me Page’ (The Kevin Bourke Treatment Fund) went viral very quickly and more than €60,000 has already been raised.

Kevin first developed severe neck pain in 2016 but an MRI didn’t show any abnormalities. Several visits to physiotherapists and pain management specialists also failed to uncover what was wrong.

Early 2018, he developed shortness of breath while out walking and a chest x-ray revealed a cancerous mass in his left upper chest.

Kevin was told this was inoperable due to its proximity to his heart and he underwent a course of IV chemotherapy. Earlier this year, another tumour developed on his skin which was also treated with chemo but more bad news followed with yet another growth close to his heart developing.

According to his mother Mary, Kevin came to terms very quickly with the diagnosis.

“He never let it get to him. He made a  decision there and then not to even google it. He just asked what’s next and has since been following the doctor’s plans to get him back on track.

“Even on his darkest day, the days he is so weak, he still remains positive and I’m so proud of him for this,” said the Castleconnell native who is looking after her son in the family home in Newport.

Kevin, whom Mary describes as “the most positive person” she knows, is a sports fanatic. He has played soccer with Newport Town and hurling with Newport for many years.

Having completed a Masters degree in culture and colonisation in NUIG, he was working as a digital marketing executive in Limerick up until his diagnosis.

Kevin Bourke (centre) at his graduation from NUIG with his mother Mary and brother Ruairi.

He is also widely travelled, having taught English in South Korea and lived in Canada for a while. It’s his dream, when he gets better, to visit South America with friends.

Expressing a hope that the community can give her son a chance at life, Mary says that the family don’t have the kind of money needed for the treatment.

“If we don’t get it for him, I don’t know what will happen. It’s now down to the wire. This needs to happen immediately. Chemo will soon not be an option as his body can’t take it anymore,” said Mary.

“The whole community in Newport has shown just how great they are. People who Kevin never even met have arrived at the door with holy water, holy medals, prayers, offers of help and good wishes. We have been so humbled by this kindness; it makes the whole process a little easier on us all.”

“It warms my heart to see so many of Kevin’s pals call to see him. There are times where there is a gang of lads in the living room sitting with Kevin, checking in on him, sharing the weekend’s sports on telly,” said Mary.

“If we could raise this money it would mean that our community has given my son a fighting chance. The doctors can do all they can do but if we aren’t in a position to pay for it then Kevin simply can’t get it. People in Newport have been so giving and so loving so far and we would be lost without them.”

In addition to the Kevin Bourke Treatment Fund on ‘Go Fund Me’, accounts have been set up at Newport Credit Union (Kevin Bourke Fund: Iban – IE47MURN99219510177117) and AIB Bank (Kevin Bourke Account- Iban IE80AIBK93014827681080)