Help Robyn fly away to try vaccine

by Mark O'Brien

THE family of a 13-year-old Dublin girl who suffers from the deadliest form of childhood cancer are hoping to raise funds to get her on a potentially life-saving vaccine trial in New York.


Robyn Smyth, from Whitehall, was first diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma when she was just three years old.


Brave Robyn has since relapsed three times and while she is currently clear of the disease, her family have been told that if she relapses again, she stands little chance of survival.


Robyn’s mother, Bernadette Dornan, told Dublin Gazette that while Robyn is currently clear of the disease, it is vital that they begin the vaccine treatment as soon as possible.


Bernadette said: “It’s been a year since Robyn had a clear scan. We have gotten her clear, but it doesn’t last and now the only other option we have is to get her on this vaccine trial in New York.


“It looks like our only option; we’ve nothing else left because if she relapses again she’ll just be back on more harsh treatment, and we’re trying to prevent that because she’s so weak now.”


Despite being clear of cancer at the moment, Robyn is still receiving chemotherapy treatment and is on inhibitor drugs.


Bernadette said that the vaccine trial would make treatment for Robyn more manageable.
“We’re due back in for scans in April and we were hoping to get things moving then but that’s only a few weeks away. I’m not sure if we’re going to have to keep her on this treatment that she’s on, because we don’t have the money to move her to the next trial,” said Bernadette.


The vaccine trial in New York is two years long, meaning the family need to continually raise funds for Robyn’s treatment.


Locals have been happy to help, and there are a number of fundraising events planned for the coming months.


Of the current fundraising efforts, Bernadette said: “We’ve a load of girls doing the mini marathon so we’re trying to get people for that.


“Somebody offered to do a fast and people seem to be joining them now. There’s a little gang joining them now. We have 60 people abseiling off Croke Park. That’s a printing company that we came across, and we’re doing The Kube.”


Bernadette said she has been blown away by the support people have shown to her and her family, adding: “It’s amazing. I try my best to keep track of everybody and say thank-you to everybody but I sometimes think that’s not enough.


“A girl’s just ran a triathlon, and I’ve just said thanks on Facebook. I’ve been in tears over it, but that’s all I can do.”


Bernadette’s sister and a few of her friends help to keep track of the fundraising activities. But as they also work full-time, Bernadette said she is desperate to add people to the charity’s committee.


“We don’t have an awful lot of help to keep track of the stuff that we’re doing. We’re not a big charity or anything, and we’ve missed out on opportunities for fundraising as well.


“Because Robyn is just an individual, she can’t get charity status, so we’re a trust. We miss out on the big fundraisers, so we rely on people to come to us.”


To become involved, donate or put forward a fundraising idea, see

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