Irish teenager's desperate plea to raise funds for last-chance cancer treatment: 'I don’t want to die'
An Irish teenager battling a rare form of cancer has pleaded with the government to cover the costs of life-saving treatment in the US and said her life is being "put on a number".
Shauntelle Tynan who lives in Carlow, was diagnosed with multi-system Langheran’s cell histiocytosis in May 2015 and has been funding her specialist treatment in Texas Children’s Hospital with money raised by her community.
The 18-year-old care in Houston is not supported by the government as she does not qualify for the HSE’s Treatment Abroad Scheme, having sought treatment outside of Europe.
In an emotional video posted this weekend, Shauntelle pleaded with the public to help her raise €350k to fund a year of specialist treatment in Texas and said she is not ready to die.
"The only worldwide specialist is in Texas. Of course travelling to Texas comes with a huge price. It always has. We always seem to get there as we have amazing support.
"We’ve been emailing my government to get them to help us with costs but if you fly outside of Europe, they don’t help with medical costs. It’s ridiculous, €350k doesn’t mean anything to our government and this is my life. I’m an Irish citizen and I just wish they’d help. It’s so sad that my life is being put on a number and how much money we need to make,” she said.
The teenager said her chances of survival dwindle if she does not raise the vital funds for treatment and said she fears telling her younger siblings that she will not be around to see them grow up without it.
“I have a six-year-old sister and a ten-year-old brother. We don’t want to tell them I won’t make it if I don’t go to Texas, we just want to tell them I’m going to get there. It’s hard to know if I really will. It seems impossible to raise the money, but we really need to raise it.”
Since her diagnosis in 2015, Shauntelle’s cancer has spread to the gastrointestinal system, colon and skin and the teen will travel to Texas on March 29 on her own to undergo treatment.
"Recently we have learned that we’re going to have to move to Texas for at least a year, that’s me on my own, that’s not my family, that’s me.
"That’s because the cancer has just gotten so out of control. When it started off I had cancer in my ears, my skin and my pituitary in my brain. Now it’s all throughout my gastrointestinal area. It’s in my colon, it’s in my skin it’s in my stomach.
"It’s given me really bad side effects. The doctors in Texas have told me if I don’t come for at least 12 months then they don’t have a great chance of helping me survive."
Shauntelle’s mum Leona has written several letters to the Minister for Health, pleading for government assistance with the massive costs of the treatment.
"We have done everything in our power to get her life back and pleaded with the Minister for Health for support but because Shauntelle requires care outside of the criteria for the treatment abroad scheme as her treatment is not within Europe. We have been swamped with acts and legislation all coming down to a big no.
"We now need to raise over €500k to get Shauntelle to Texas for a minimum of twelve months from March 29. We have managed to raise over €160k through Go Fund Me but need to raise another €350k. We can’t do this alone, our community has already funded five trips to Texas.”
The mum has given up her job to be Shauntelle’s full-time carer and said she is desperate to see her teenager return to full health and to live a happy life, cancer-free.
“This is my daughter’s life to which she now has little quality of and I am a desperate mother trying everything possible to get my beautiful and inspirational daughter back to living the life she deserves before it is too late.”
To help with Shauntelle's treatment costs visit www.gofundme.com
Belfast Telegraph Digital