Nicola Matthews, from Ballysian Road, started a GoFundMe campaign last week to help her and her husband afford to be with their son Cain when he gets surgery for Hydatid Disease.
The donation total stood at £7,950 at the time of this publication and Nicola thanked all the donators and community members from their area.
She said: “It’s been absolutely amazing. At times, we’ve just been so emotional about it and it’s so heartwarming, knowing so many people, especially in the current climate where no one’s finding it financially easy at the minute.
“Just, the generosity of people has been absolutely amazing.”
Nicola explained that the GoFundMe money was to afford both flights and accommodation in London while Cain moves there for surgery, alongside a six to eight week recovery period at the Royal Hospital in London.
She and her husband, Gary Matthews, have to take numerous flights each week as Nicola has to take of her business and the pair swap places throughout parts of the week.
“I don’t want people to think we’re taking advantage of anything, because it’s not like that at all,” she said.
Impact on the Matthews’ lives
The effect of the disease was ‘horrific’ on both parents and Cain, whose life as a college student of creative media and game design froze.
Nicola said: “His life has just stopped. For an 18-year-old’s life to just stop and be cooped up in your house, waiting on treatment, it’s just not how you want to spend your 18th year.”
Despite the hardship, Nicola said that her son coped with the situation better than the adults even with a mix of good and bad days.
The parents were afraid to leave him at home alone, with the risk of rupturing his spleen always dangling in their minds.
Nicola was forced to close her business for a period, and struggled with the mental stress of her family’s troubles and financial difficulty.
Even with the support of their family members, it proved a challenging time for the Matthews.
“When you’re dealing with massive trauma yourself, it is so hard to park you own stuff and go and try to help somebody else.
“Cain needs a lot of care and we’re running to a lot of appointments with him all the time.
“And coming off the back of Covid as well, it’s been really difficult.”
The medical situation
The emergency came to light a day after Cain’s 18th birthday, when he became ill and had a ‘football-sized’ mass on his spleen.
After rushing to the Royal Hospital in Belfast, surgeons were able to stabilize him after removing nearly 19 litres of fluid from his body, equivalent to nearly 24 pounds.
While currently undergoing chemotherapy and anti-parasetic treatment, doctors wait for the results of Cain’s recent MRI scan before the treatment moveds from Belfast to London.
The required surgery would remove both the spleen and the parasite.
Cain was infected during a holiday abroad when he was five, though its origins are unclear.
Hydatid Disease is a parasitic disease by tapeworm infection.
Featured image credit: Nicola Matthews