Conan Kelly, a 29-year-old communications engineer from Dublin, Ireland was a medical puzzle for his doctors. The single father had been experiencing a wide variety of odd symptoms that his doctors simply could not diagnose.

Anything that seemed even half-way reasonable didn’t fit the profile of a man his age.

His declining health made it difficult to work, but he did.

Photo Courtesy: Mairead Kelly/Independent

Doctors thought maybe he had ulcers—it wasn’t that. 

Kelly’s mother, Mairead, explained to The Epoch Times, “Apart from a breath test to check for ulcers, he did not have any other tests carried out, despite repeated requests for them.” Kelly was refused other tests for cancer because he did not fit the profile of a patient who would be considered for such testing.

The single father was only 29, and it seemed like there was little chance for him to be suffering from something really serious.

Kelly’s health issues had begun two years prior, but over the 24 months when he was working away from his family his health worsened. His symptoms progressed from heartburn, indigestion, coughing regularly, reflux, and loss of weight to difficulty swallowing.

His condition made it very difficult for him to work, but he did it to support his 3-year-old-daughter, Sophie. As his condition worsened, that became an extremely difficult task to fulfill.

“My son kept trying to work, but obviously he was missing days and turning up late for work prior to being diagnosed correctly,” Kelly’s mother, Mairead Kelly, explained to The Irish Independent in an interview. “Then he lost his job just weeks before his true diagnosis.”

Losing his job meant he had to move away from his daughter for work.

Photo Courtesy: Mairead Kelly/Independent

Kelly was able to find another job quickly, but it would take him to Germany, far from the daughter he loved so much and was doing all he could to support. Sophie stayed in Ireland with other family members.

He finally got a diagnosis.

Photo: Mairéad Kelly/Clondalkin Echo Facebook

While in Germany at his new job, Kelly was at lunch when everything took a major turn for the worse. He suddenly started coughing up blood and was promptly taken to the emergency room.

It was then that he would learn the diagnosis that had eluded him and others for so long. After four days of various tests, Kelly was told he had esophageal cancer. He later found out that it was stage 4, and that a tumor of 10 cm was blocking the entrance to his stomach.

Esophageal cancer is more common in men than women, and like lung cancer is linked to alcohol and tobacco use, or obesity. But unlike lung cancer, it is not in the forefront of the public mind, and people are less vigilant about checking for the signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer and placing importance on early detection and diagnosis.

But the young father could not afford the treatment he needed.

Kelly’s new reality would find him fighting for his life under added financial stress that was limited by his available insurance. He would need at least one full round of cancer treatment — treatment he had no means to afford.

His mother is asking for help.

Photo: GoFundMe

“Unfortunately, due to a clerical error that his insurance company made, Cónan’s health insurance got cancelled,” Kelly’s mother said.

To curtail the medical expenses, Kelly now lives in a rented room rather than staying in the hospital. His mother is understandably upset up by the circumstances, which she fears may leave her young grandchild without a father.

She is trying to help by soliciting donations through a GoFundMe campaign.

“Cónan is living alone in Germany, away from his girlfriend and daughter,” his mother wrote explaining the situation. “Every day, this three-year-old daughter asks: ‘Where is my Daddy? I miss him!’ She is too young to understand a word like cancer and concept like death.”

Kelly has had some radiation and chemotherapy, as well as surgery in an attempt to remove the tumor.

A recent update from the family bore a little good news: They found out his medical insurance has been reinstated and will now pay for most of his expenses, but Kelly still does need help with living costs and care. 

Kelly and his daughter’s story have struck a chord in thousands of hearts around the world, and the story has made its rounds on various media. A few hundred people have chipped in to support the family to date, and Mairéad has been spending her time by Kelly’s bedside, hoping for better news.