Mother with rare cancer seeks funds for treatment abroad

Woman (37) told cancer is terminal but wants to extend life for her two children

Caroline Sweeney with her daughters, Jamie and Zara

Caroline Sweeney with her daughters, Jamie and Zara


A 37-year-old mother of two who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and had to get her tongue removed has made an urgent appeal for funds to enable her to travel abroad to get medical treatment to prolong her life.

Caroline Sweeney from Macroom, Co Cork, who is mother to Jamie (8) and Zara (3), was this month told by doctors that her only option was palliative care. She has been urged to get her affairs in order and to write a will.

Ms Sweeney told The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM that she wasn’t ready to go to a hospice and wanted to battle to extend her life in order to see her children grow up.

She is exploring the possibility of undergoing experimental treatment in Germany that will cost about €30,000.

“Two weeks ago on a Friday I was brought in and more or less told to put my house in order and to get my will sorted. My poor children have lost their [grandfather] last October and have lost my partner’s mother. They have lost two family members. It is not about me. It is about my children. If I was in my 50s I would say, ‘Thank you very much, I have had a very nice time. Good luck.’ But I am 37 and I have two small girls who need their mum and I am not giving up for them. My oldest, Jamie, is making her Holy Communion next May.”

Ms Sweeney’s sister said doctors are perplexed as to the reason for the development of tongue cancer, particularly since she is so young, is a nonsmoker and has lived a healthy life.

Tongue removed

Ms Sweeney was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue in June 2016. She underwent surgery to remove half her tongue. She also had chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In December last year her cancer returned and she had to have her whole tongue removed. Unfortunately two weeks ago she was told that a new tumour had emerged on her neck. She also has spots on her lungs. Doctors informed her that the cancer was not survivable and that she needed to enter Marymount Hospice in the city.

However, Ms Sweeney is looking to a new treatment on offer in Germany. She says she is praying for a miracle that will extend her life.

“I am not ready for it [death]. They want to put me on palliative care. The girls are my life. I have worked hard all my life. I just want a chance.”

Tongue cancer is less common than many other types of the disease. Most people who get it are older adults. One of the first signs of tongue cancer is a lump or sore on the side of the tongue that doesn’t go away. Incidence of tongue cancer is more common in smokers and heavy drinkers than the general population.

Her fund-raising web link is