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Quin's Johnny Hassett who is undergoing life-saving cancer treatment in Germany.

Community races to aid of Clareman receiving cancer treatment

A QUIN man undergoing break-through cancer therapy in Germany has issued an emotional ‘thank you’ to those who are helping to fund his treatment.

Johnny Hassett of Ballyhannon House, who is a very popular and highly respected member of the equestrian community, received a lung cancer diagnosis in June and has been having chemotherapy under the care of a leading specialist in a German hospital in recent weeks.

The 49-year-old specialises in producing ‘breeze up’ horses, who are galloped or ‘breezed’ in front of prospective buyers. Since his diagnosis, members of the sector have rallied around Johnny and raised over €250,000 through a Gofundme campaign.

The fundraising drive was started by members of the The Breeze-up Consignors Association (BUCA) to help with medical bills and has resulted in a huge outpouring of goodwill in Clare and much further afield.

John Cullinan of BUCA told The Champion that the figure raised to-date indicates the high regard in which the Quin man is held. “We really wish Johnny well,” he said.

“In the breeze up sector, we support each other and we were delighted to give this campaign every possible assistance. It was initiated by Mick and Sarah Murphy, ably assisted by Katie Rudd. It was only started last Thursday (July 22) the response has been tremendous from the racing and bloodstock sectors as well as Johnny’s friends and neighbours in Clare.”

Mr Cullinan, of Horse Park Stud in Wicklow, said hopes are high of a positive outcome from Johnny’s treatment. “We really hope it will make a difference,” he said. “He’s in good spirits and a positive frame of mind. He is as well as can be expected and is due to come home fairly soon. We really wish him well.”

In a video message on Gofundme.com, Johnny thanked everyone who has donated.

“It’s very much appreciated,” he said. “I just want to say thanks. I remember listening to people on TV and online talking about being overwhelmed and humbled and I thought it was clichéd. To be very frank, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the response. To everyone who has called, messaged, donated, called my family and other people… thanks.”

Supporters include champion jockey Oisin Murphy (see below)

Johnny also outlined the nature of his diagnosis. “The story is that I was in Limerick at the end of June after my biopsy,” he explained. “A guy called me in and kinda says, ‘It’s curtains, inoperable, terminal. You’ve got to go home and get your stuff in order’. I was in shock.”

Connections in the equestrian sector led to Johnny finding out about the German oncology specialist.

“A man who owns a couple of horses organised this [treatment],” he said. “We had had this conversation already, that this guy in Germany was in the best in the world if his mother ever got cancer, he was going to send her out. So, he sent me out.

After the first week, I said, ‘Doc… am I a live-er or a die-er?’ He said, ‘You’re a live-er’. So, that was very good. And then I said, ‘Are you sure?’ He said, ‘No’. I  said, ‘How sure are you?’ He said, ‘80%’. So, that’s where we’re at. I’m in treatment for another week and I’m getting on well.”

Full details of the fundraiser are available here

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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