This is the brave young Derry man who overcame his own battle with cancer before helping other families now facing the same fight.
Michael Beeton was aged 16 when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphblastic Leukaemia. Now 18 and in remission, Michael is helping raise funds for the Clic Sargent ‘Home From Home’ appeal.
It was a tough battle, not only for Michael but his entire family, particularly for younger brother Danny. The then 15 year-old Danny was the best matched donor for the bone marrow transplant required to save Michael’s life.
Michael said: “There were three suitable donors but Danny was the best. Luckily we’ve always been close but I thanked him all the way through and my other brothers and sisters because they all wanted to donate.”
Danny is now in lower sixth form at St. Joseph’s, Creggan. He had to leave the school during the period he was receiving his cancer treatment. “It was just before my exams. We decided early on that I would just take it one day at a time. You had no choice and while it was tough you just have to get on with it.”
The boys underwent their transplant procedures in October 2010. That process and in particular the ten days of “gruelling and intense chemotherapy treatment” prior to the operation, is far removed from Michael’s new lease of life.
“I’m studying Performing Arts at the North West College and I am really enjoying it,” he said.
A talented guitar and piano player, Michael arranged for some of his friends to perform a fundraiser for the ‘Home from Home’ appeal last weekend. The event raised almost £1,000 towards fitting two homes for use by families who need to stay in Belfast while their children are treated for cancer.
“Clic Sargent were just so good to us,” said Michael. “They really took care of us with both financial and emotional support. Even my Clic social worker Laurena was brilliant. Her visits to me in hospital to play guitar with me meant everything.”
Decribing his journey as a “tough road at times, especially when I was going through treatment”, Michael said: “I met lots of good friends at the hospital, like Creggan’s Mark McAllister. He kept my spirits up so it was to help people like him who still use the hospital and Clic services that I knew I had to raise some money for them.
“My little brothers and sisters raised over £100 selling tickets alone. I can’t thank mammy or my brothers and sisters, Matthew, Danny, Shane, Callum, Katie and Therese enough.”