Support benefit night and help fund US cancer treatment for local man

Keith Gibbons who is receiving treatment for a brain tumour in Houston, Texas.

Keith Gibbons who is receiving treatment for a brain tumour in Houston, Texas.

A benefit night being held in the city tomorrow (Friday ) aims to raise vital funds to finance a cancer treatment programme in Texas for a Galway based man.

Admission to the event - which features music from Mikey and The Scallywags, The Amphetemine folk band and funky tunes from DJ Gar - and takes place at the Rowing Club at 9pm, is €10.

The fundraiser aims to raise €75,000 to pay for this year’s treatment for Keith Gibbons who was diagnosed with a grade III brain tumour in 2007, just three months after his elder brother Darren (36 ) was diagnosed with the same condition. Darren, a civil engineer, responded well to treatment and got the all clear following his five year scan last week.

Keith, (34 ) who is originally from Foxford, Co Mayo, and lives with his wife Brenda in Doughiska, has had three operations, radiotherapy and various cycles of chemotherapy. He studied at GMIT and NUI Galway and holds a degree in computer science. He works at Aerogen, a medical devices company based at Dangan where he is the head of IT. He also helped to design its main products - nebulisers.

His sister Tara Gibbons says in March 2010 Keith learned the tumour had returned. “Keith first knew something was wrong with him just three months after Darren was diagnosed in 2007. After a scan it was confirmed that Keith also had a tumour. From that point our whole family and friends have been in a case of constant deja vu. Keith had a grade III tumour just like Darren and has endured three operations, radiotherapy and various cycles of chemotherapy.

“In March 2010 we learnt his had once again regrown. After that operation it was upgraded to a grade IV. Keith and his wife Brenda [from Co Clare] decided to look at other treatments, they came across one in Texas. His health insurance would not pay for the treatment as it is still in trial phase. The treatment in Texas is a fraction of the cost of treating Keith in Ireland. Keith has worked for many years at Aerogen who have been very supportive as have all of his friends.”

He is currently in the United States where he is receiving treatment for his glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour at the Burzinsky Clinic in Houston, Texas. He was accepted onto a clinical trial in August at the clinic. Dr Burzynski’s mission is to beat cancer by utilizing cutting-edge, gene-targeted, personalised cancer treatments for every patient.

“Keith and Brenda are in Texas but due to come home within the next week or so to continue treatment,” says Tara. “Keith has been very weak and having frequent seizures but these are now being brought under control. He had an MRI scan not so long ago and it showed no change. This is not a bad thing as his tumour is very very aggressive and the fact it hasn’t grown more is good news in itself as he has been off chemotherapy for nearly three months now.”

She is hoping that like his brother Darren Keith will make a good recovery. “Darren was diagnosed with his tumour just two weeks after the birth of his only child Frankie. It was hard going especially for Darren’s wife Linda going to and from Beaumont with a newborn and the worry for her husband. Darren worked as a civil engineer but sadly after a brain injury sustained between the tumour and the surgery to remove it he can no longer work on sites and dedicates his time to raising funds for worthwhile charities such as the brain tumor support group and Quest a brain injury centre, both in Galway. Thankfully Darren reacted well to the treatment and just had his five year scan last week and is still clear.”

A number of fundraising events have been held in different counties to help defray the cost of Keith’s treatment.

“We have received a massive amount of support from people all over Ireland and the UK. We have an upcoming event in Galway city on October 28 and in Foxford, Co Mayo on November 5. Events in the pipeline but not confirmed include Dublin, Cornwall, London and Suffolk in the UK. There are also smaller but very welcome events like a non-school uniform day in Claremorris, Co Mayo on October 28 and a skydive in Kent.”

While the K Project, named after her brother, is well on the way to reaching its €75,000 target for this year’s treatment, there is still much to do, she says.

“Keith and Brenda must travel over and back to Texas probably about three times during each year of treatment and are currently there receiving the first stage. As well as medical costs we must also think about flights and accommodation. We must also be prepared for another year’s treatment.”

The family and friends of Keith Gibbons are appealing to people to attend the Galway fundraiser or to make a contribution, no matter how small, to the fund. Donations can be made directly using PayPal - http://thekproject.org/ Donations can also be made out to the Ulster Bank, the k project, 98 54 55 Acc: 10538413 Claremorris, Co Mayo. There is also a Facebook page regularly updated with new events where people can follow Keith’s treatment on twitter - @thekproject

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