A big-hearted granddad who has terminal cancer has raised more than £5,200 for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s Lung Cancer Team.
Retired carpenter Paddy Kelly, 68, from Aldridge, organised an evening of Motown, Northern Soul and disco music at Erdington Conservative Club.
Father of three Patrick, also a granddad to Mia, eight, and six-year-old Lily, was diagnosed with cancer on his 68th birthday, February 9 this year, and the disease, which is stage four (advanced), has spread from his lungs to his brain, with multiple tumours.
Tumours on the right side of his brain have affected Paddy’s left side, meaning he has also lost 25 per cent of his hearing in his left ear, though he has been told this might return.
He has been told he might have years to live and has refused to allow his condition to affect him. Five days of radiotherapy at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and eight bouts of chemotherapy, plus regular doses of monoclonal antibodies (MABs) – a type of immunotherapy which works by triggering the immune system and helping it to attack cancer – have so far helped reduced his tumours by 50 per cent.
Paddy, father to sons Christopher, 37, Robert, 34, and Liam, 23, continues to undergo chemotherapy and he has another 25 sessions to go. But not all of his tumours can be removed.
“The treatment made such a positive difference to him in the last two months,” said Yvonne, 62, Paddy’s wife of 38 years and pictured with him. “Hopefully he will have a good few years yet.”
Three events have inspired Paddy to keep going. Firstly, eldest son Christopher survived cancer at the age of 22.
Also a carpenter, Christopher had a stem cell transplant after contracting Non-Hodgkin lymphoma then Hodgkin lymphoma, making a full recovery.
When Paddy was told his condition was terminal it was a relief because it made sense, he said. “I’d been taking wrong turns driving home, losing my memory and had been very moody, so the signs had been there.
“The doctor said ‘you have a good heart and kidneys and we’re going to treat this’. Then he introduced me to Jack Ingram, a Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, who said ‘you’ve had a shock but we’re going to take care of you’.
“From feeling totally that I was going to die, to all of a sudden feeling that there might not be a cure but I could still live for years and be in the best possible hands, was inspirational.
“I also remembered what happened to Christopher and thought ‘if he can do it, so can I.’”
Sitting in the waiting room for a radiotherapy appointment one day, Paddy saw a poster on the wall. “It showed a girl of six with a brain tumour and when she recovered, her and her school friends made fairy cakes and raised £60,” he recalled. “I thought if that little girl can do that at a time of such trauma, I must be able to at least match that.”
After having the idea of the entertainment fundraiser, Christopher’s wife Samantha Keeley and his niece Kelly Wicks “took it to another level”.
An auction on the night saw some memorable prizes won, including use of an executive box at a Chelsea home game at Stamford Bridge from an anonymous donator which raised £2,000, while a Villa Park executive box donated by avid Aston Villa fan Dean Platts of Streetly attracted a top bid of £600. An all-expenses paid weekend fishing trip in Ireland donated by Luke O’Reilly, a cousin of Paddy, went for a similar amount.
In addition, Barclays Bank, Samantha’s employers, donated £1,000 and there were generous donations of spirits from friend Gail Black, who runs The New Inns pub in Erdington and her son Daniel Black who runs The South Harbour pub – known as the Diggers – in Witton. Gail and Daniel also helped promote the event.
Jack said: “In what is often a very frightening and uncertain time, Patrick and his family managed to turn this experience on its head and make it into a positive one. Patrick and Yvonne are truly ‘one in a million’ people.
“He truly is a pillar of the community and it’s easy to tell how many lives he has touched with people attending the event from as far as Ireland and America!
“As well as being a fantastic night, Patrick and his family’s efforts have gone a long way to raise money for the lung cancer service, which will help our team access more training and education to develop the service and help others in their journey.”
Paddy would also like to thank two of his eight sisters, Pauline Platts and Stella Trueman, who have helped Yvonne with travelling to and from hospital appointments.
All the money raised will be distributed to the Lung Cancer Team though Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s charity Well Wishers.
Well Wishers Fundraising Manager Georgie Westley said: “It’s been a pleasure liaising with Paddy and his family over the last number of months and I was truly overwhelmed at the support they received with this fundraiser, resulting in a fantastic amount raised.”