Mexico treatment ‘glimmer of hope’ for Derry father as community rally
A seriously ill Derry father and his family have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the response to a fundraising drive that aims to send him to Hope4Cancer in Mexico.
Leslie Smyth (41) a father of two girls, said he was told on Tuesday that radiotherapy treatment for tumours in his heart and lungs had been unsuccessful and there is ‘nothing more’ doctors can do.
Accepting this is ‘not an option’ for Leslie, who has been married to Emma for 10 years and lives in Newbuildings.
He wants to see his daughters, Emily (14) and Isla (9) grow up and walk them down the aisle.
The family heard of Hope4Cancer, Mexico through friend of a friend from Omagh, who recently travelled to the centre, which specialises in alternative, non-toxic treatments.
Leslie, who was first diagnosed with sarcoma in 2002, told how he has to ‘give it a shot’, and while it was difficult for him to ask for help, his family have set up a Go Fund Me page to fund the trip.
In just over 48 hours, it has raised over £47,000 - almost half the target - and speaking to the Journal, Leslie’s wife, Emma, said the phenomenal response has been ‘so heartwarming and overwhelming’.
“One of my friends said to me: ‘Aren’t Derry people brilliant?’ And they are. When I get the opportunity to go through the donations I’m seeing so many people we know and don’t know - people are even donating anonymously. It’s beautiful and such a wonderful thing to do. Mexico is our last wee glimmer of hope and to have the potential to get there means everything. It’s the only thing we’ve got.”
Following Leslie’s diagnosis in 2002, he underwent surgery and radiotherapy. He remained stable until 2017, when it was discovered he had a tumour in his brain and left lung. More surgery followed and again, he remained stable until summer 2020, when more tumours were found in his lung.
Leslie had the full lower lobe of his left lung removed, but his seizures and ‘off days’ became more frequent. It was found he had suffered a stroke and further investigation revealed two tumours in his heart, in the middle of the two main chambers.
Surgery was deemed too dangerous, so his only other option was 10 days of intense radiotherapy, which finished on May 25.
On Tuesday, he was informed it had not been successful and the tumours in his heart and lungs continue to grow.
Emma outlined how a previous option of a self funded drug is also not a possibility and Mexico is their only hope.
“Sarcoma is a slow growing cancer, but, quite often, it doesn’t respond to much.
“Mexico is the only other thing we have seen. It’s all non-toxic, light, oxygen, vitamins etc and even for someone who doesn’t have cancer, it would be of benefit.’
On Leslie’s Go Fund Me page, he outlines how he wants to be there for his family.
“Anyone who knows me personally will know that it has taken a lot for me to set up this page, to ask for help, and to lay everything out so publicly.
“But, they will also know that I am a proud man, who loves life, loves his family, and I am ready to fight this and give everything I’ve got. I have a wife who I love dearly - we will be married 10 years in September, I want to be here for the next 10.
“I have two daughters that I want to see grow up, help guide through difficult times, make memories with and, hopefully one day, walk down the aisle.
“That is why I have set up my gofundme page.
“I have been researching alternative therapies to try and prolong my life, and have found a clinic in Mexico, called Hope4cancer, that specialist in alternative, non-toxic, treatments.
“Their patient testimonials and statistics are amazing and I have real faith in what they do. I have to give it a shot, I have to try and make it out there! However, it costs a hell of a lot of money and, I cannot do this without help.
“I know it’s difficult times for everyone at the minute, but honestly, if there is anything you can donate, even one pound, it will make a difference. Every donation, no matter how small, will be so greatly appreciated.”
A number of events have organised to run alongside the Go Fund me, including the Horse Show on Sunday, August 15 at 10am at Eglinton Equestrian Centre.