Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland-born boy seeking costly cancer treatment in U.S.

A Newfoundland family living in Alberta has plenty of help at home, as relatives and friends desperately try to raise enough money to send a 13-year-old to the United States for an experimental cancer treatment.

'We know we can do it. We are going to do it,' says Connor's aunt Lisa McGrath

Connor McGrath's cancer was not responding to conventional chemotherapy. At one point, his family and friends in Newfoundland and Labrador are hoping to raise enough money to send him to the United States for treatment. (YouCaring)

A Newfoundland family living in Alberta has plenty of help at home, as relatives and friends desperately try to raise enough money to send a 13-year-old to the United States for an experimental cancer treatment.

Connor McGrath has been fighting cancer since he was 10 years old. He had gone into remission.

"Anybody who knows or sees Connor, you will always see him with a smile," Connor's aunt, Lisa McGrath, told the St. John's Morning Show.

"He's just so free-living. He just wants to be out amongst everybody and he's joking. He's just full of life."

Raising money

The family's worst fear came true when the boy's acute lymphoblastic leukemia returned in May 2015.

After several rounds of chemotherapy, Connor's doctor in Edmonton suggested the family send him to Philadelphia to have CAR T-Cell Therapy.

The therapy involves altering a patient's cells and then using them to attack the cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

How can you deny a child a chance at life?- Lisa McGrath , Connor's aunt

The procedure in the U.S., which McGrath said costs $800,000, is not covered by the Alberta government because it's considered experimental.

Without government help, the McGrath family back home, in the St. John's neighbourhood of Kilbride, and in Placentia, are working hard to raise the money.

"We know we can do it. We are going to do it," McGrath said. 

"Even if it was just a 10 per cent success rate. How can you deny a child a chance at life?"

McGrath said they have started a crowdfunding page and several fundraisers are in the works.

"If you have 800 people in Newfoundland that can raise $1,000 we can send Connor to Philadelphia. It's reality, we can do it. We have to do it."