A COUNTY Limerick man who was told last November by medics to “put his affairs in order” as there was nothing they could do, has since undergone innovative cancer treatment in Germany and is now doing “absolutely brilliant”.
However, his family are in a race against time to ensure that enough funds are raised to enable him to complete the life-saving treatment.
A fundraiser is to take place this Saturday night, March 2, in Bulgaden Castle outside Kilmallock to ensure that Mike Hayes, a native of Martinstown now living Knocklong, is able to continue availing of the Hyperthermia treatment at a clinic in Hannover.
The 60-year-old father-of-five who previously worked at Paul & Vincent in Kilmallock was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010. He underwent surgery in a Dublin hospital and had half of his right lung removed.
After making a good recovery, Mike, who is well-known in sporting circles, continued to do well until January 2012 when his health began to fail him again.
“In February 2012 they told him the cancer had come back on the other lung,” explained his wife Ann. “They did a test and basically the growths were around the heart. The cancer had not spread anywhere else – it was only confined to the chest area,” she continued.
However, devastating news followed.
“They told him that there was nothing they could do this time – it was too deep,” Ann recalled.
“They did another chest x-ray and when we went in to get the results last November we were told to go home and get his affairs in order, that there was nothing they could do.”
Mike, she recalled, was “just shell-shocked”.
One of the hardest things was breaking the news to the couple’s children
“I had to ring my son Michael in England and tell him. He arrived home – we didn’t even know he was coming home and he said: ‘Mam, I have loads of German friends in England and they are telling me about this clinic in Germany’.”
Ann went on the internet and looked up the clinic in Hannover. After researching the treatment, the family made contact with the clinic.
“They didn’t tell us straight out that they could help him. They wanted his medical records so we sent them on and then they got in touch in November and said: ‘yes they could help him.”
The type of treatment Mike is availing - hyperthermia treatment - sees the tumour tissue being overheated from the outside. The aim of the treatment is to destroy or slow down the growth of the tumour cells by means of temperature above 39.5 degrees centigrade without damaging healthy tissue by the heat.
“They have a device that they put on his chest which is heated and he has to be on that for two hours and then he is transferred to another room. He is on drips-chemo,” Ann explained.
“The day after that, he is put on a bed with heat underneath it. They have to bring your body temperature up to 40 degrees. I am there in room with him wiping his forehead and changing the cloths around him. All his body is covered except his head.”
Once the Hayes family decided to go ahead with the treatment, they set about raising funds to cover the various costs.
“My God, the people have been absolutely brilliant,” said Ann. “My son organised a benefit night on December 1 and we flew out on December 2 and he had his first treatment on December 3.”
Initially, Mike had to stay in Hannover for three weeks because he was having treatment each day. On leaving the clinic after the three weeks, he was given a list of dates on which to return.
“We had to go out once every week after that which was very expensive,” said Ann.
“Basically, every time we go out there, it is costing €5,000 that is between treatments, flights, accommodation - the whole lot. You can’t actually fly directly to Hannover – you have to go to England first. The time that we were there for three weeks – it cost €5,000 a week.”
Mike had already undergone five sessions - he must undergo 12 sessions to complete the course of treatment.
“There can only be a certain amount of time in between each treatment,” said Ann.
The grandfather-of-six she said is “feeling absolutely brilliant” - so good in fact that since the start of the month his doctors have changed his treatment to once a month instead of once a week.
To date, the family have spent in the region of €25,000 on treatment but are now under pressure to pay for Mike’s seven remaining treatments.
“I had to tell them that the money funds were running out and we couldn’t basically afford to keep coming back that often,” said Ann.
Tickets for this Saturday’s fundraiser at Bulgaden Castle, cost €15 and are available from Ann on 087 2886461, Antoinette Fitzgerald on 087 9874478 and on the door on the night. Music by The Indians and doors open at 9pm.
Donations can be made to the Mike Hayes fund at the Bank of Ireland in Bruff, account number: 18071405, sort code: 904165.