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John Needs Pembro

€102,819 of €150,000 goal

Raised by 414 people in 7 months
Created November 8, 2018
John Needs Pembro Fundraising Team
on behalf of John Holmes
This is our friend John Holmes.

John has an advanced metastic neo endocrine tumor, a high grade tumor similar to small cell lung cancer. His best chance of beating it is a course of injections of the immune inhibitor Pembrolizumab which is manufactured by MSD. Each injection will cost €5,111 and we have formed a fundraising committee called John Needs Pembro to help him pay for this treatment.

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If you live in Kilkenny you either know John him or know of him.  

John went to St. Patrick's De La Salle and St. Kieran's College. For many years he managed the family business which he took over from his father Jack Holmes.

On July 13th, 1991 he married Edel. They are blessed with two wonderful children - Jonathan and Louise. Both are talented runners so family trips to athletic events countrywide were a regular feature of the Holmes home life. John is rugby fan, a member of Kilkenny Rugby Football Club and a regular at Irish rugby internationals. Before his illness intervened he enjoyed golfing and fishing and, naturally, hurling.

As Christmas 2010 approached John was taking a long time to shake off a persistent cough. As men do, he ignored it but Edel wanted it sorted ahead of the festivities and sent him to the doctor. His GP did some routine test and didn't like what he saw. John was referred for further tests and on December, 29th, 2012 their world was turned upside down by the test results  - John's initial diagnosis was the relatively rare Neuroendocrin, and this has now resulted in aggressive tumours of the throat and lung.

He was pitched into a world of exhausting chemotherapy cycles and painful invasive surgeries. In January 2014 surgeons removed his voice box in an effort to arrest the cancer's progress. It didn't work. The cancer came back. In May, 2016 his medical team gave up. They told him that they had concluded that 'no further intervention was advised' and sent him home to die.

'Well John, I'm not just going to let you die' - Prof. John Crown, September, 2016.

Through an incredible series of coincidences John's case came to his attention Professor. John Crown - Ireland's foremost oncologist. Intrigued by the rarity of John's condition, Professor Crown accepted the challenge.

After a regimen of enhanced aggressive chemotherapy ran its course, Professor Crown recommended three cycles of injections of Pembrolizumab (Merck brand name Keytruda), each cycle consisting of an injection once every three weeks  for twenty-four weeks.
The first injection in the first cycle was administered on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018.

The problem is that Pembrolizumab is not currently licensed by the HSE for John, so he will have to conjure up €5,111 (scandalously, this includes VAT) ahead of each scheduled injection.

For eight years John has resisted the cancerous growth in his body. He has done so with dignity, courage and humour. His family provided inspirational support and, we, his friends have watched his defiance with awe.

But the time to be spectators as this heroic goal line defence plays out is over.

On Monday, November 5th, 2018 friends and family members formed a committee called JohnNeedsPembro.

JohnNeedsPembro is planning a series of fund raising efforts around Kilkenny to ensure that this rolling, three-week target of €5,111 is met.

John Holmes has faced down cancer for eight years. He has done so without self-pity or attention-seeking. He would not have allowed us to organise fundraising campaign which relies so heavily on public attention if it wasn't necessary.

If you remember John from your school days, your rugby days or have done business with him during his time (ongoing, by the way) as a member of Kilkenny's business community, or if you remember the craic in Maggie's in the late 80's - early 90's please consider supporting the JohnNeedsPembro Fundraising effort.

Please note that donations can also be made to our account at St. Canice's Credit Union, Kilkenny. The account name is 'John Needs Pembro' and the account number is 8553300

Lastly, a quick clarification of the  'Total Raised' amount you see on our GoFundMe page:

This total does not take account of the ongoing cost of John's infusions of Pembro. For example, on Tuesday, March 12th, 019 he had his seventh infusion. At €5,111 per infusion, his costs so far are €35,780.50

Please remember that every three weeks €5,111 is being subtracted from our total raised amount . 

Website: http://johnneedspembro.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Johnneedspembro

Please also see local Kilkenny media for details of upcoming events.
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Milestones:
On Friday June 7th, local fitness trainer Donna Dunne marked her birthday by giving rahter than receiving presents. She hosted a fundraising workout class and donated all proceeds to the John Needs Pembro campaign - a total of €500. We were touched to learn that the kids around her estate also wanted to help and they raised €50 for us too. 

The following day, Tom Mullens, secretary of the Kilkenny & District Soccer League invited us to hold a raffle at the McCalmount Cup Final between Evergreen and Fort Rangers and he put up Premium Level tickets to the Aviva Stadium as a spot prize. We raised €890. 

We have seen many, many unexpected gestures of support since we launched our campaign – these are just two recent examples we wanted to highlight.

Depositing these proceeds brought us across a threshold we never dreamed possible back in November. Thanks to your support the John Needs Pembro GoFundMe page has now raised over €100,000.  This is an astonishing tribute to the people of Kilkenny and beyond and words cannot convey how profoundly grateful we are.

John has had twelve infusions of Pembrolizumab. He looks great and his quality of life is immeasurably better than it was before he started his infusions. And that is thanks to each and every person who has donated to the campaign.

Finally, a word on our GoFundMe total. It does not take account of withdrawals to pay from his infusions. His costs so far are €61,338 (€5,111.50 x 12) so we have €38,850 left to pay for the next seven infusions (7.6 to be exact).
So we are now fundraising for the last eleven of John's prescribed thirty infusions. It is vital that he receive the full schedule.

We know we'll get there with your support.

Please take a moment to congratulate yourself and then please like and share this post far and wide.

Thank you.
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Update about John 3rd of April 2019:
There is some good news and some minor bad news.

John visited St. Vincents hospital, as usual, yesterday morning for his 8th Pembro infusion and to meet his consultants Prof Armstrong Radiation Oncologist & Prof John Crown Oncologist.

Prof Armstrong was happy with how the tumour reacted to radium treatment recently and was happy that the antibiotics worked well on the localised skin infection.

John then went and got his bloods etc. done as usual to ensure he could receive the Pembro. After the bloods came back clear, John met Prof Crown who informed him that he was happy with the recent CT scan John had and that the Pembro is having a positive outcome. He is to continue ahead with the next cycle of 8 infusions and rescan then for a further update. So its great news to hear that the Pembro is having the desired effect and long may it continue.

In the picture below you can see John receiving the Pembro Treatment while enjoying an Ice Cream after receiving the good news.

The only bad news is the fundraising needs to continue to fund lifesaving treatment for John but to call it bad news when we heard the treatment is working is probably a stretch.

Regular updates regarding the John Needs Pembro events, fundraising and details about John can be found at www.johnneedspembro.com

Thanks for all the continued support throughout this journey so far and long may it continue.
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This is an important notice from the 'John Needs Pembro' Fundraising Committee about the 'Total Raised' amount you see on our GoFundMe page:

This total does not take account of the ongoing cost of John's infusions of Pembro. For example, on Tuesday, January 8th he had his fourth infusion. At €5,111 per infusion, his costs so far are €20,444.

Please remember that every three weeks €5,111 is being subtracted from our total raised amount .

Thank you again for your generosity,

The John Needs Pembro Fundraising Committee
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An update on behalf of John, his family and the John Needs Pembro committee on progress so far.

The donations, support, thoughts and generosity experienced in the 6 short weeks since fundraising began in November has been nothing short of astonishing and overwhelming. To date the total raised sits at an amazing €31,736 of the €150,000 end goal. Enough to cover the first 6 rounds of Pembro treatment.

So far John has had two treatments (picture included from the last one) with a third scheduled for Tuesday coming. He is in good spirits and is feeling better in himself, having previously been ill and bed bound for days on end post chemotherapy he is enjoying a renewed lease of life on Pembro which thankfully has less negative side effects than chemo. John and his family are looking forward to enjoying the christmas period together and catching up with friends and relatives from far and wide.

We thank you all sincerely for your support to date and hope to that you can continue to drive forward our cause at some of the great events on going over the christmas period and into the new year. (Remember to please like the page to stay updated on events and share our posts and story with your family and friends).
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Read a Previous Update

€102,819 of €150,000 goal

Raised by 414 people in 7 months
Created November 8, 2018
John Needs Pembro Fundraising Team
on behalf of John Holmes
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L1
€2,611
Lodgement to St. Canice's Credit Union, Monday, June 17th
20 hours ago (Offline Donation)
NP
€20
Natalia Palczynska
1 day ago
SB
€20
Sarah Buttle
2 days ago
€45
Anonymous
4 days ago
L1
€540
Lodgement to St. Canice's Credit Union, Thursday, June 13th
5 days ago (Offline Donation)
L1
€40
Lodgement to St. Canice's Credit Union, Thursday, June 13th
5 days ago (Offline Donation)
L1
€20
Lodgement to St. Canice's Credit Union, Monday, June 10th
5 days ago (Offline Donation)
L1
€897
Lodgement to St. Canice's Credit Union, Monday, June 10th
6 days ago (Offline Donation)
L7
€50
Lodgement to St. Canice's Credit Union, Friday, June 7th
6 days ago (Offline Donation)
CD
€30
Catherine Dempsey
10 days ago
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