Ballymoney woman Pat McAuley feared the worst when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
But after a gruelling regime of treatment, Pat is now feeling much better – so much so that she has just raised an amazing £3,800 for Cancer Focus NI and the Breast Cancer Unit in Antrim Hospital.
Pat raised the cash by holding a coffee morning and raffle at her home to say a big thank you to the charity and hospital unit for all their support during her illness and recovery.
She has also been a wonderful supporter of Cancer Focus NI by making regular donations to the Ballymoney Cancer Focus NI shop. The shop, at 56 Main Street, is always on the look-out for donations (028 2766 9644).
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of January last year and it came as a big shock as I’d had a clear mammogram the previous February,” said Pat.
“My mother passed away from cancer when my siblings and I were very young, so it was hard not to expect the worst when my boys were only coming into their teens.
“I had a mastectomy and all my lymph nodes removed from my right side on February 13th last year. This was followed by 18 weeks of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiotherapy. The treatments were extremely tough on me - I managed to suffer some of the worst side effects possible with chemotherapy. The radiotherapy was particularly tiring as I had to commute five days a week for five weeks by train.
“I completed radiotherapy last September and I was told that my treatment was over and I should just continue to live my life. To be told something like that, after fearing every day what would happen when I woke up, was rather disturbing. It’s like you are suddenly left to fend for yourself - I’d been so used to getting support every day from the moment my life was blown apart by the diagnosis.”
Pat continued: “Luckily there is support out there. The Breast Cancer nurse at Antrim Hospital referred me to a Breast Cancer Recovery and Transition Group and this is where I found out about Cancer Focus NI.
“Cancer Focus NI has been a massive comfort and support to both me and my family. “It’s because of their fantastic on-going support through-out my illness and afterwards that I decided to fundraise for both Cancer Focus NI and the Breast Cancer Unit in Antrim Hospital.
“I also held a prize draw at my coffee morning and I’d like to thank everyone who donated the many generous prizes including two Cath Kidson bags, afternoon tea in Memory Lane, Kilrea, Gift voucher for Walshes Hotel, bottles of wine and spirits, and much, much more. I’d also like to thank everyone who attended and made donations or who helped in any way.”
Full story and pictures online: www.ballymoneytimes.co.uk
Ballymoney Cancer Focus NI shop manager, Ryan Abraham, said: “Pat has worked tremendously hard and put on a terrific show for us at her home. We can’t thank her enough for her support and for her generosity and hospitality during the event. I’d also like to join her in thanking everyone who has supported her fundraiser.
“Speaking personally, it was so inspiring to see how Pat has managed to come through her illness and organise such a successful fundraising even. I met many people who had personal stories about their own experiences of cancer. I commend them all for coming together for a great cause and to show Pat their support.
“Pat has also been so generous by promoting Cancer Focus NI and making regular donations to our Ballymoney shop. We have a very fast turn-over in the shop, so if you are doing a spring clear out and have good quality goods to give away, please think of us. We are happy to accept donations of any kind of clothing, toys, bric a brac, small electrical items, books and DVDs.
“All the money raised by Cancer Focus NI stays in Northern Ireland and provides a wide range of services including counselling and family support, bra and swimwear fitting for mastectomy patients, art therapy and Beauty for Life. The charity also funds major research and carries out important cancer prevention work such as stop smoking sessions in local workplaces, schools and at community venues.”
For more information visit www.cancerfocusni.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also like the charity on Facebook and follow on Twitter.