Strabane’s Deirdre Campbell - ‘one tough cookie’

Mayor Colr. Martin Reilly launches the Macmillan Cancer Support coffee morning, taking place on Friday 27th September, with Maria McGleenon, left, fundraising manager, and Deirdre Campbell, senior volunteer. (DER3113PG78)

Mayor Colr. Martin Reilly launches the Macmillan Cancer Support coffee morning, taking place on Friday 27th September, with Maria McGleenon, left, fundraising manager, and Deirdre Campbell, senior volunteer. (DER3113PG78)

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A Strabane mother of three, who overcame a long battle with cancer, is now using her experience to help others do the same, through her involvement with Macmillan Cancer Support.

July this year was the third anniversary of Deirdre Campbell’s cancer surgery. Today she speaks of resuming a normal life and how she is using her experience to help others undergoing similar battles.

In 2007 Deirdre underwent facial surgery following a skin cancer diagnosis. The horrors of that however were surpassed in July 2010 when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. “That was the most difficult thing ever,” Deirdre said. “There was a time when I thought I would never laugh again. I had to tell my children the news over the phone. They just kept saying, ‘you’re a tough cookie.’ I knew their hearts were breaking just as much as mine was.” Today, thanks to her role with Macmillan Cancer Support, she says she is “able to use the love and laughter I found during my own fight to help others. It gives me strength, as did my most wonderful surgeon Mr. Gidwani. There are days when it would be easy to stay in bed under a pain or sore, we all have bad days, but it is well worth getting up and getting out there.”

Overcoming the illness inspired the well known charity worker to continue to help others. Having joined Macmillan as a senior volunteer, she uses her cancer journey to help others cope with diagnosis. “My journey only started after my surgery. Initially you just think ‘I’m alive.’ Then you have to return to normal life. It is a great privilege to be part of a team which exists just to help the sick. Unless you’ve had cancer, you’ll never understand. The worry never leaves but you can’t live like that. That is why I joined Macmillan. No one should face cancer or its after effects alone. There are times now when it all seems like a bad dream.”

What advice does Deirdre offer those facing cancer?

“Be gentle on yourself, there is help available, so call Macmillan. It is not really for me to advise people, except to say cry. You have to cry to get through cancer.” Deirdre loves her new lease of life with Macmillan: “Derry is my adopted home now. Before this year I only knew Foyleside and Altnagelvin Hospital. Now I feel like I’m making up for lost time. I love meeting new people, I love helping them. I’ve met so many lovely people through my work with Macmillan, They’ve given me more than I can give them.”

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support on 08088080000.