Sunday Life Friends’ Spirit of Sport winner raises money for cancer treatment

Dozens of supporters are supporting Aidan O’Neill, winner of the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland award, in his bid to beat pancreatic cancer.

idan received the Spirit of Sport award two months ago in recognition of his work in establishing Run-Anon – a running club in Crumlin which since its inception in 2015 has raised over £30,000 for good causes.

An appeal has now been launched to generate a similar sum and pay for treatment which he hopes will save his life.

The former butcher and garbage collector (56) has been racing since the age of 18.

He’s run countless marathons and half-marathons – and even a 100-mile race in 24 hours.

However, two months after finishing second in a race just over a year ago, Aidan had the first signs that he was soon to face his biggest challenge yet.

Since being diagnosed with cancer, he has been undergoing chemotherapy to shrink the tumor in hopes it will break off from an artery and allow surgeons to operate.

“I wasn’t well last Christmas, then in January they diagnosed me with cancer,” he said.

“I thought everything was falling apart.

“But I hope now that they can take me to England for laser treatment because, at the moment, they say I am not operable.

“I just hope and pray that the tumor comes out of my main artery so they can operate.

“Fingers crossed I will train again next year and start racing again.

“I’m so lucky to have good friends and family around me who help me all the time.

“It’s so difficult sometimes.

“I hope that next year the situation will change and that I will start racing again.

“We need it to get away from my artery.

“It has to come off my artery so they can operate to remove it.”

Brave but humble friends of the father-of-three from Run-Anon, where he is the head coach, have mobilized an online campaign to try and raise the £28,000 for the specialist treatment – an astonishing start to more than 10 £000 was raised in the first 24 hours of its launch.

It’s proof of how much Aidan is loved and respected in his local community, whose members hope to spread his story far and wide.

They created a GoFundMe page titled “Help Aidan get SABR treatment for his cancer.”

Friends said: ‘We sought expert help privately, after speaking to someone who was inoperable and then became operable through the use of SABR treatment.

“That help was with Dr. James Good of Genesis Care.

“Dr Good presented Aidan’s case to a team of specialists in Oxford who concluded that Aidan might be eligible for an operation called the Appleby procedure if he had another response to treatment.

“We know times are tough for people and we would really appreciate it if you could spare a few pounds to fund this treatment to give Aidan the best possible chance of beating the terrible disease of pancreatic cancer.”

To donate to the appeal, visit https://gofund.me/22c86524

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