“The tumour on this little girl’s neck was so horrific and huge, people were terrified”

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika before and after her operation

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika before and after her operation

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Former Lancashire lad Nic McCarthy is now living in the Philippines and together with a group of expats out there, he has become involved in a fundraising mission after being touched by the plight of a little girl living in poverty who was afflicted by a massive growth on her neck.

AASMA DAY talks to Nic McCarthy to find out more and why he is urging Lancashire folk to show the generosity they are renowned for.

THE smile lighting up her face speaks volumes and shows the joy she is experiencing at finally losing the massive growth from her neck which was causing her agonising pain and was unsightly to look at.

Graika looking happy after the operation to remove a massive tumour from her neck.
Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story

Graika looking happy after the operation to remove a massive tumour from her neck. Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story

Greika Krisan Dael is a five-year-old girl living near Cebu in the Phillippines who developed an eye tumour at the age of three which resulted in her losing her left eye.

The cancer returned and spread to her neck with horrific consequences as it led to a gigantic outward growing tumour on her neck causing her immense pain and for people to recoil in fear when they saw her.

Nic McCarthy, 52, who grew up in Hutton, near Preston and has been living in the Philippines for the last three years, was made aware of Graika’s plight and felt compelled to help her.

Nic, who is a former pupil of Longton County Junior School and Hutton Grammar School, explains: “The tumour on Graika’s neck was absolutely horrific and it is inconceivable that you’d ever see anything like that in the UK as the patient would have been sent to hospital instantly long ago.

Graika looking happy after the operation to remove a massive tumour from her neck.
Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story

Graika looking happy after the operation to remove a massive tumour from her neck. Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story

“But Graika’s parents haven’t even got the money to buy her a headache pill so there was no way they could have paid the hospital bills for their daughter.

If you would like to help Graika you can make a donation via: www.gofundme.com/2fw5kmk4

“When I heard about Graika’s story and saw the horrendous tumour which looked like it was going gangrenous, I knew we had to do something to help her.

“The tumour started in her left eye and led to the loss of her eye and it then spread to her neck.

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika recovering after her operation

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika recovering after her operation

“The tumour has been growing on her neck for two years because her family did not have the money to pay for hospital treatment. Everyone was terrified of this tumour on Graika’s neck.

“Things had got so bad that although there was a risk with the surgery, we knew that if she didn’t have the surgery, she was going to die.

“Graika is such a sweet little girl and it was terrible to see this five-year-old who had already lost an eye with this collosal tumour on her neck.

“I just could not have lived with myself if I had done nothing.”

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika with the tumour before her operation

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika with the tumour before her operation

Nic, who lived in Hutton with his parents Mike and Christine and his siblings, went to London after leaving Hutton Grammar School and studied a degree in music followed by a post graduate course in music.

He worked in London as a musician for many years and was a piano player in smart hotels such as the Dorchester and The Ritz as well as teaching music while living in Guildford.

Nic first left the UK in 2001 at the age of 38 as he had got bored and wanted to try new experiences.

He recalls: “If I had carried on living in the North, I probably would have been quite happy. But I would not have been able to earn the same living as I did down South.

“The UK is a beautiful and historic country but I was finding it very claustrophobic so I moved to Paraguay and my plan was to start living a bit.

“When I was in Paraguay, I partied and went out all the time. I had worked so hard in the UK, I just wanted to let off steam.”

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story -Nic with some of the local wildlife in the Philippines

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story -Nic with some of the local wildlife in the Philippines

After living in Paraguay for a few years, Nic moved to Thailand and lived in Bangkok for about eight years where he began teaching music. Then three years ago, he moved to the Philippines.

Soon after Nic moved to the Philippines, the country suffered devastation after being hit by Typhoon Yolanda which happened just weeks after a massive earthquake.

Nic became involved in the relief efforts and helped people affected in neighbouring islands as well as donating and buying medicine and tools for those affected north of Cebu.

Nic met some other ex pats living in Cebu and when the group became aware of little Graika’s predicament with the huge tumour on her neck, they decided to work together to help her.

Nic, along with Chris, Denise, Mark, Nelia and Marc, realised Graika needed urgent hospital treatment and donated money to get things moving quickly and organised treatment for the little girl.

Nic explains: “Hospital bills in the Philippines are very expensive and the healthcare system here basically means that if you have no money, you are stuffed.

“Graika’s family live in a very small brick house with a tin roof and they have at least five children.

“The house has a living room which is about four foot by six foot and a little kitchen and a bedroom which is about six foot by six foot which they all live in.

“The only electrical appliances they have is one light in the ceiling, a portable fan and a rice cooker. Their electricity bill is about 15p a month, but they can’t even afford that.

“My friends and I realised we could not even risk Graika going another day without medical treatment so we funded her hospital consultations, biopsies, drugs and the operation to remove the tumour.

“The tumour was so bad that doctors we showed photographs of it too said Graika’s chances of surviving the surgery were less than 50 per cent.”

Miraculously, Graika survived the operation and Nic and his friends were filled with emotion after seeing her smiling and laughing - something she hasn’t been able to do in years.

Nic says: “The difference in Graika is already amazing. She has been sitting up in hospital and playing with cuddly toys and seems to be doing well.

“She will soon be discharged from the Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City and moved into Everlasting Hope rest house so we can continue with her medical treatment for.

“Graika now needs cosmetic surgery to cover the massive hole that was her tumour.

“She’ll then need a course of chemotherapy and we’d also like to get her a glass eye to replace the one that cancer stole from her.

“We have already spent more than £4,000 on Graika so far but we need to raise more money for the cosmetic operations and chemotherapy to give Graika the chance to have a life that she has never had.

“She is an amazing little girl and we want her to build up her strength and carry on recovering and our priority is to get her healthy.

“We also want to put things in place to help her family to make sure things are more habitable for when Graika gets home.

“Graika’s dad drives a motorbike taxi and sometimes, he is carrying 10 people at a time around.

“He works from first light for 12 hours a day and the maximum he earns is about £2 a day.

“We are also aware that he can’t worl at the moment as he dotes on his little girl and wants to be with her at the hospital.

“As well as providing food for his family, Graika’s parents have to buy distilled water from stores as there is no running water and even if there was, is would not be drinkable.

“I am trying to help the family and make sure they have food and water and can pay for their electricity.”

Nic, who has visited 63 countries and has been to extreme countries including Vietnam, South America, India and Sri Lanka, says he has seen a lot of poverty but the destitution in the Philippines is shocking.

Nic, who still has lots of family and friends in Lancashire, says the people of Lancashire are the most generous he has ever come across and he is urging people to support their mission to help Graika by donating to Gofundmesites that they have set up.

Nic says: “I miss the warmth of the people of Lancashire and even though I have not been back since about 2005, my heart is still there and I’ll always think of myself as a Northerner.

“I miss the sense of humour of the people and the architecture of the buildings. But I don’t miss the weather!

“I want to urge my fellow Prestonians to help give Graika a chance to live by making a donation.

“People might be embarrassed to only donate a small amount, but it can make a massive difference.

“Even £5 will have a major impact as a fiver paid for an emergency taxi to hospital when Graika’s neck tumour started bleeding profusely and £5 would also pay her family’s electricity bills for two years.

“Please donate whatever you can - however small the amount.

“Thanks to everyone who has already supported Graika with donations. Please share her story so we can continue to raise funds.

“Graika is such a sweet little girl and deserves the chance of life and happiness.”

If you would like to help Graika you can make a donation via: www.gofundme.com/2fw5kmk4

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika in hospital

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Graika in hospital

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Nic and his family on a photo featured in the Lancashire Evening Post about Pancake Day

Nic McCarthy - Real Life Story - Nic and his family on a photo featured in the Lancashire Evening Post about Pancake Day

Nic McCarthy -  Nic on the island of Bantayan (north Cebu) which was devastated in Typhoon Yolanda.

Nic McCarthy - Nic on the island of Bantayan (north Cebu) which was devastated in Typhoon Yolanda.

Nic McCarthy -  Nic with some Filipino musician friends

Nic McCarthy - Nic with some Filipino musician friends

Nic McCarthy - Nic in a devastated classroom on the islet of Moamboc (just off the South West coast of Bantayan) after Typhoon Yolanda

Nic McCarthy - Nic in a devastated classroom on the islet of Moamboc (just off the South West coast of Bantayan) after Typhoon Yolanda