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Fighting on all Fronts

Last April 42yr old Cathy Durkin went public to campaign for access to the cancer drug Ipilimumab or 'Ippy' - This documentary tracks Cathy's life from then until the end of her life.

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4.1/5 (111 ratings)

Documentary maker: Elayne Devlin

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Documentary maker: Liam O'Brien

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Fighting on all Fronts

In June last year, mother of three, Cathy Durkin was diagnosed with tumour behind her eye. The eye was removed and she was given the all clear.

However, just six months later, in December, the melanoma cancer returned and scans revealed there were now tumours in her liver and in the hip bone.

Cathy started chemotherapy in spring but to no effect, it was then she learnt of the drug, Ipilimumab or ‘Ippy’ as it became known. The drug had been available up to December on trials but the cost of the drug was not cover by private health insurers or under the public system.

So Cathy, along with family and friends, started fundraising and campaigning to get the drug ‘Ippy’ made available. The drug came with a price tag of €85,000 which was beyond the reach of the majority of patients that needed it.

As Cathy’s cancer continued to spread, her sister, Celine decided to ring RTE’s Liveline and go public with their fight for ‘Ippy’. Cathy told everyone of her struggle to get access to ‘Ippy’ and thousands of euros flooded in to help cover the cost however she was determined to ensure that the drug was made available for everyone who needed it. The campaign gather momentum and just a week later, the Department of Health announced that they would cover the cost of the drug for patients with progressive melanoma.

It was then Cathy real battle began, the cancer was spreading fast, she received her first dose of ‘Ippy’ within days of the Department’s announcement. Family and friends gathered around to provide all the support that was needed. Cathy was in and out of the hospital, trying to maintain a normal family life. As the summer rolled on however, Cathy’s condition deteriorated.

'Fighting on all Fronts' goes behind the campaign and the headlines and follows Cathy and her family as they try to maintain a normal family life while going over and back to hospital to receive the ‘Ippy’ treatment. It tells the story of a brave woman who despite knowing her chances of survival weren’t great, continues to play with her children and worry if their socks fit them.

On the fundraising choir night, we hear community spirit in action as everyone gathers around to support the family. And later, we meet Celine, Cathy’s sister who took an extended leave of absence from her job in order to be around for her and the sisters tell us how their relationship is changing as Cathy’s illness progresses. Finally, we meet Michael, Cathy’s husband who juggles the school run, the washing and the shopping with support from all the extended family.

The documentary follows Cathy and her family as they struggle to adjust to the changing condition of Cathy’s health and ultimately her untimely death.

Narrated and produced by Elayne Devlin.

Production Supervision by Liam O'Brien.

First Broadcast Sept 8th 2012

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