Treatment fundraiser for teacher diagnosed with a brain tumour

A fundraising campaign has been launched to help fund pioneering treatment for a well-known teacher with strong local connections.

Cormac McLaughlin is the son of Rhona (nee Hegarty) and the late Charlie McLaughlin from Buncrana. He has many family members within the area and his brother, Darragh lives with his family in the town.

Cormac, who grew up in Castlederg after his parents moved there, was diagnosed last year, at the age of just 38, with an aggressive and life-threatening brain tumour.

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He had been living and working as a primary teacher in Hong Kong at the time.

Cormac McLaughlin, pictured with his wife Krystal.

Following the sudden diagnosis, Cormac married his fiance, Krystal, a wedding that had already been delayed twice due to Covid 19.

It has now come to the stage where Cormac needs pioneering treatment abroad and his family has identified the MD Anderson Centre in Texas, who have agreed to see him immediately. The treatment at this centre yielded impressive results in other patients and Cormac’s wife and family hope it will give him more precious time with them.

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The treatment involves not just medical costs, but also travel and accommodation. Cormac’s family want to do everything they can to help him and, with his permission, have launched a fundraising campaign to help pay those costs.

In just one day, it has raised almost E60,000 of the 250,000 goal, something that has given Cormac - whose grandfather was the renowned late Doctor Denis McLaughlin - and his family a ‘great boost.’

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Cormac and his family.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Darragh told how it was a ‘huge shock’ when Cormac received his diagnosis, which came after he experienced some blurred vision and balance issues. Tests in Hong Kong confirmed he had a brain tumour and it was intrinsic (inoperable.)

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“He got his diagnosis on Good Friday, booked his flight home on Easter Saturday, then got married and flew straight home straight away. I collected him on the Tuesday and he went to Altnagelvin, where they gave him more tests and MRIs. He then went on to the Royal Victoria in Belfast.”

Darragh said Cormac has a great team of medical specialists in the Royal Victoria and the City Hospital and has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. While this has very much weakened him, Darragh said his brother has been undergoing it ‘like a champ’. Cormac is currently living with his mother in Castlederg and sadly, Krystal had to go back to Hong Kong as she could not outstay her visa. She and Cormac are ‘constantly facetiming’ and she hopes to return as soon as she can. Along with being separated from Krystal, Cormac has also had to deal with the many challenges of Covid 19 lockdowns that have isolated him from his family, friends and the outside world when he needs support most.

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Darragh told how Cormac has a strong faith and has been positive and brave throughout everything he has faced. He is a very much loved son, brother, uncle, husband and friend and Darragh told how they want to do all they can to help Cormac. Cormac’s sister Niamh, a pharmacist, had been researching possible treatments and identified MD Anderson as the most hopeful.

They have an extensive Clinical Trials offering with many novel therapies not available here and he will be seen by some of the top brain cancer specialists in the world. Darragh outlined how his family is a very private one and they discussed at length whether to launch the fundraiser. But, they knew that asking for help is ‘vital’ and any extra minute they can have with Cormac is ‘so precious’.

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They have been overwhelmed by the support so far on the Go Fund Me page and also by people pledging to help. These include Cormac’s former colleagues in Rome, where he set up a Gaelic team, who are also helping to raise funds. “The support has just lifted our mood completely. We can’t get over it. It’s not just the donations, it’s the number of people who want to help. We’re just so grateful.”

The family has kindly asked that anyone donate whatever they can afford and/or share the Go Fund Me link on social media. You can also pay via Paypal with all details on the Go Fund Me page.

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They added: “We must keep the faith and keep positive. We ask that you keep Cormac in your thoughts and prayers.”

You can donate online at www.gofundme.com/f/care-for-cormac