Cancer Focus NI looking to help the people of Derry

Colin McFarland, Colin McFarland tyres presenting a cheque �1,021 to Gareth McElduff, Cancer Focus (formerly Ulster Cancer Foundation) the proceeds of birthday party for Mavis McFarland. ALso included is Gareth McFarland. (0506SL16)

Colin McFarland, Colin McFarland tyres presenting a cheque �1,021 to Gareth McElduff, Cancer Focus (formerly Ulster Cancer Foundation) the proceeds of birthday party for Mavis McFarland. ALso included is Gareth McFarland. (0506SL16)

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Gareth McElduff is a man on a mission.

Gareth, originally from Omagh, is the Community Fundraising Officer for Cancer Focus NI (formerly known as the Ulster Cancer Foundation).

The charity changed its name to Cancer Focus NI last week and Gareth along with the rest of the team wants to let the people of Derry and the North West know what services and support they provide.

“The great thing about this job is that you get to meet some really inspirational people,” said Gareth.

“I met a woman from Strabane who is going through tough treatment for cancer. When she told me her story I was amazed and totally shocked.

“I couldn’t believe that here was someone who was really ill but still determined to give up her time to volunteer with Cancer Focus NI.”

Gareth explained that all of the work that Cancer Focus NI carry out is strictly confidential but he wanted to make people aware of the services that are offered locally.

“In Altnagelvin Hospital we offer a bra fitting service to women who have undergone surgery as a result of breast cancer.

“I know that this is valued service as it can be a sensitive issue so that’s why virtually all of our support services are completely confidential.

“We are also in the process of educating young adults and children on cancer and how it can be treated.

“Rachel Smith who works out of our Belfast office, shows young people how chemotherapy works by using different coloured bubbles. She get the children to burst the bubbles and tells them that the bubbles are like cancer cells and chemotherapy destroys them.

“Hopefully we can do something similar in Derry and the North West.”

Gareth, who has experienced the loss of a loved one to cancer himself, knows all too well the difference help and support can make.

“A person close to me lost her mother to cancer a few years ago and she said that her mother used to really look forward to the service offered by Cancer Focus NI known as ‘Beauty For Life’.

“‘Beauty For Life’ is essentially a pampering session for a person who is undergoing treatment for cancer - it can be invaluable.”

Gareth is responsible for fundraising in the Western Trust area. He said that he is determined that Cancer Focus NI will have a bigger presence locally and encouraged anyone who would like to help the charity to raise funds to get in contact.

“I am organising a charity Zumbathon in Strabane in the next few weeks. There’s real interest in it and the girl who’s taking it is from Derry.

“The thing that always surprises me in my job is the generosity of people. When it comes to charity the local people are always forthcoming with help and support.”

Along with colleague Paul O’Gara, Gareth is helping to organise an event called NI Decaman.

NI Decaman is ten iron man challengers over the space of ten 10 days running from July 6 to 15. The first event will take place at Eskragh Lough, Old Ballygawley Road, Dungannon.

“It’s such a big event for us and all of the money raised will go towards Cancer Focus NI.

“It’s essentially an iron man triathlon so we are keen to hear from individuals or if people want to they can also enter a relay team.

“We have had a lot of interest and a radio station in New Zealand has also covered it.

“If anyone from Derry is interested I would really like to hear from them - it’s a big event so we need as many people as possible to get involved.”

For further information contact Gareth McElduff on 07885956830 or email: garethmcelduff@cancerfocusni.org

To find out more about the NI Decaman event contact Paul O’Gara on 07585 956 807 or email: paulogara@cancerfocusni.org