Beloved cancer patient postpones treatment to raise money for kids

(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
Updated: Feb. 16, 2018 at 6:29 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Fighting Leukemia since age five, he's the Louisville kid who gained national attention when the NCAA allowed him to throw on a Bellarmine basketball jersey and help the Knights take on the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center.

Now, Patrick McSweeney is fighting for the Cards and for thousands of children with cancer despite his own unexpected battle.

The UofL freshman engineering student is giving the community a huge gift. He's raising money for those children, as he relapses for the seventh time.

Doctors say they've never seen anything like it. They and organizers of the raiseRED campaign wanted us to know exactly what Patrick was up to. And no surprise, he's more concerned about helping other kids with cancer, than helping himself.

We know the Bellarmine University community has a lot of love for the honorary Knight, as Patrick's lifelong battle with leukemia inspired the men's basketball team.  As a UofL student, the admiration keeps growing.

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"He blows my mind away, he's just extraordinary," said UofL Interim Chief for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Dr. Ashok Raj.

The doctor is in awe of Patrick's endurance after relapsing again.

"Sometimes I feel, how can a person be so strong?" he asked, "I know inside, it's very hard for any human being to go through all those battles, one battle after another battle, after another battle."

It's a war on Patrick's body that he always hides with a smile.

"The plan is I'm going up to Philadelphia in a week and a half or so, February 25 to receive more T-cell treatment," McSweeney said

A month later, he hopes to undergo a second bone marrow transplant.

"The plan is, that will get me cancer free forever," McSweeney said.

That plan would have already been in progress, but Patrick asked his doctors if he could delay treatment to stay in Louisville a little longer, and lead UofL's raiseRED 18-hour dance marathon to benefit pediatric cancer.

"I know what those kids are going through," McSweeney said. "And I know that it isn't easy to overcome an obstacle such as cancer, and that having support from family, friends and an event like raiseRED from the community really is a morale booster for them."

The money helps with research, a family's bills and a social worker to assist them.

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With one Facebook post, Patrick smashed his $5,000 goal, already raising more than $20,000 for the campaign. His new goal is $25,000.

"He's the best fighter I've ever seen," His fraternity brother and raiseRED Finance Director Jacob Lamping said.  "His rhythm needs a little work but his footwork is very good."

Patrick's Philadelphia doctors ok'd his plan to dance. We will know if his moves have improved by Friday February 23, when the marathon kicks off in the Swain Student Activities Center.

About 1000 dancers will try to raise $550,000. That's roughly $100,000 more than the record breaking amount the group raised last year.

The next day, February 24, they'll reveal how much money they raised.

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