How medical fundraising helped Craig fight a rare cancer in order to watch his sons grow up

How medical fundraising helped Craig fight a rare cancer in order to watch his sons grow up

Less than 12 months ago, Craig Tobin was diagnosed with a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST), a rare cancer that affects the connective tissue surrounding the nerves. After he’s diagnosis, he underwent multiple surgeries, 72-hour-long chemotherapy sessions and radiotherapy as part of his cancer treatment plan.

The surgeries which saved him his life, also made him make a difficult decision which has changed the rest of his life. Craig Tobin made a heartbreaking choice to sacrifice his right arm and half a lung in order to survive this rare form of cancer.

Doctors said this was the only way that Mr. Tobin would be able to survive from the cancer. According to the surgeons and health professionals who were there every step of the way, Craig’s life was on the line and the only way to completely remove the tumor was by amputating his right arm and half of a lung. The decision was not a light He had the choice either to lose these things or to face death as the cancer would have continuously spread throughout his body including his vital organs.

Apart from wanting to stay alive, Craig would do anything for his two children and wife. Being a hardworking man, he promised to take care of his family no matter what. The decision to remove his arm and half a lung was a tough decision to make. However, Craig knew that this decision had to be made in order to spend more time with his family. He chose to fight and to stay close to his wife and two sons, Daniel (3) and Michael (1).

Once the initial treatment was successful, the journey just began with his family facing new challenges ahead of them. Being unable to get work due to a loss of an arm, Craig struggled to provide for his family. His wife, became Craig’s full time carer, which it made it difficult supporting two young boys on one income salary. After the surgery that cost him his arm, he needed help from his wife for everyday activities such as washing or dressing, to drive him to and from the hospital. Craig highlights that “she is nothing but supportive all the time”.

With both Craig and his wife on the pension and their bank accounts drained due to medical bills, the Tobins are quickly drowning in bills with an unknown future for their two boys. In the near future, if Mr. Tobin decides for a prosthetic arm, it will cost him at least additional $150,000.

The Tobin family are amongst the few families which face such a rare condition, and the costs for adapting their life and home is high. Craig also had a number of rehabilitation services that he needed in order to continue his recovery and adjust his lifestyle and improve his health. Many of these challenges were of financial origin, which is why Mr. Tobin and his family opened up to family and close friends for help.

When close friends and extended family heard of Craig’s situation, they knew they had to do something. Their friend Gisele Karame-Kemp decided to help the family by setting up an online fundraising page on PeoplePledge. PeoplePledge is a medical fundraising website that helps individuals like Gisele to fundraise for loved ones like Craig. The website makes it possible for families across Australia to setup fundraisers and raise funds specifically for medical treatments and medical expenses.

Giselle a long life friend of the family started the fundraiser to help the Tobins deal with the upcoming expenses for rehabilitation, modifications to their home and car, as well as for specialized equipment just so that Craig can perform normal everyday tasks. They were able to raise over $24,000 in less than 30 days with the help of family, friends and the public giving generously.

How fundraising online can help you

As fundraising online gains more and more popularity among internet users and generous donors, there are lots families who may also want to help a loved one in need. Not all fundraisers will raise money or will reach their goal. Making the most out of your fundraiser is important and knowing what to do to boost your fundraiser can make a huge difference.

Before you start your own medical fundraiser, whether to help your family or a friend, make sure to consider these tips for a successful campaign shared by Craig Tobins and Gisele Karame-Kemp, which they confirmed contributed to the success of their fundraiser online.

Fundraising lessons learnt from the Tobin family

Plan well in advance

Prior launching your medical fundraising campaign, there are a couple of things on which you will need to decide on and which may influence greatly on the outcome of the fundraiser.

At the very beginning, you will need to calculate the rough estimate of the funds that you need, which will cover your medical costs. Craig believed that having a clear understanding of the expected costs helped them figure out what they needed to realistically fundraise and therefore, what they should ask for.

Having rough calculations will help you determine the money you need, and by that you avoid raising less than what will cover your treatment cost. In the case of Mr. Tobin’s story, he explained on his pledge page that the money he raises will be helping them get a new home, and adaptations to this home that he cannot afford. By providing this information, donors feel more confident and have the feeling that they know how their money will be spent.

The important thing to remember is that you do not have to do it alone. Gather a team, a core group of people who you can work closely with to help you get to your target. This can consist of family and friends to help you. Each of them can take different responsibilities in the campaign. A benefit to having more people working on the campaign can also mean greater outreach, since you can target more friends of friends and thus get more people interested in your medical fundraiser.

Create a timetable to help you set goals and deadlines to reach. This will help keep you and your team motivated and focus on reaching the goal. If you have a deadline, such as a surgery that is already scheduled, create a timetable with activities to help you reach your goal in due time. The more detailed your timetable is, the easier it will be to measure your success, and react promptly if the campaign fails to reach its goal.

Make the story personal

Medical fundraisers online heavily rely on the detailed story to capture the emotion and experience of the patient. How you deliver your story can change the way people connect to your story and how they will therefore react to it. Writing the story in а way which describes the struggles you have gone through, including surgeries, therapies as well as the choices and sacrifices you and your family had to make, can make the fundraiser more real and connect with more supporters.

Moreover, adding photos and videos can provide a deeper and more personal connection between the donor and beneficiary. On his pledge page, Craig Tobin posted photos of him with his two sons and wife, and of his life before and after surgery. These photos were unedited, raw and showed a real and personal side to the story that speaks volume. He also posted a video from the TV show The Project, where he was recently interviewed by to share his story in a different and more interactive way. Their statements are full of emotions and it makes almost impossible for the viewer not to sympathize with their unfortunate faith and their struggle.

Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone with а camera which allows you to record video, and that is pretty much all the equipment you will need. You do not need professional camera, just a little bit of creativity and your story will be presented through a short video.

Engage local media and be open to share your story

Many people tend to forget the power of local media, and focus on sharing the story online only. While the power of the internet and social media is immense, we should not underestimate the influence of traditional media as well. If your story reaches the local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, it can can boost your campaign and increase the number of public donations.

Once you have your campaign going you can write a simple press release containing the details of your campaign, why you need the donations, as well as personal information on your medical condition and required treatment. If you are using PeoplePledge, the team are more than happy to help you if you are not confident in writing a press release or do not know what to do.

Your press release should also contain information on how people can donate, and links to your online pledge page. After you have carefully written the release, choose а few photos to support your text and send it to contacts in local and national media. Keep track of the published material since you can use it later on for online promotion, just like Mr. Tobin did with his video on his pledge page.

Mr. Tobin’s story is a real example of how careful planning, use of photos and videos and working with the media can help boost your campaign. His campaign has raised from $8000 to $24000, in just а few days.

There are many benefits of medical fundraising, especially in such hard times when many families struggle to pay their medical bills, and when medical debt is one of the most common reasons citizens file for medical bankruptcy. For families who have a loved one receiving treatment of care whether it is for a rare cancer or for another condition or disease, medical fundraising can be useful. One of the biggest reason why you should try online fundraising is that it won’t cost you anything, while it can provide the money you and your family need for treatment, rehabilitation, or adaptation to your home which you cannot afford.


1) Craig`s Fight for His Family and His Life:

2) Help give Craig Tobin a fighting chance:

3) Cancer sufferer’s sacrifice: