Altnagelvin Ward nurse Diana Parker knows only too well how important proper care and support is for patients and their loved ones after a diagnosis.
Not only does she see it in her work every day, but the Kilfennan woman has experienced at first hand just how important support was when she lost two people very close to her and her husband, Terry.
Diana’s older sister Rosamunde Sargent (née McCay) died in August 1999 at the age of 41 after battling cancer for five years.
“We thought she had beaten it,” said Diana.
In April 2006, Diana’s brother-in-law, Ronnie Magee, died after his battle with lung cancer.
“It was very hard at the time,” said Diana, “but Rosamunde and Ronnie, who worked at Magee College and was known as ‘Mr Magee from Magee’, were the catalyst for fundraising for Action Cancer, a charity which helps when a diagnosis is made.”
Diana, husband Terry and sons Phillip (23) and Simon (21), have raised more than a staggering £27,000 since 2011 for Action Cancer.
They’ve organised charity walks involving local Lisneal College to climb Muckish Mountain, and through Glenveigh National Park, Donegal.
Diana is a keen baker and has raised the majority of the money by holding cake sales in Starbucks, Altnagelvin and in Tesco at Lisnagelvin.
“It all started off when I did a trek to China with Phillip in 2011 to raise funds,” said Diana. “At that time we were doing just one trek and raised almost £7,000 between us. We left photos of Rosamunde and Ronnie on the Great Wall of China and that was quite emotional.”
Son Phillip did a trek to Cuba in 2012, and raised £3,400 for Action Cancer. In 2013, Diana and Simon went to Vietnam, raising close to £7,000.
“The weather was awful, and we got stuck in the jungle, but it was fantastic craic,” said Diana.
Diana pledges it will be her last trek next month - having reached the £27,000 target - when she travels to Thailand with her two sons, raising more than £10,000.
“It will be challenging and difficult, but we are looking forward to it,” she said.
Diana said she is overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have helped the family raised so much money, including staff at businesses in Crescent Link recently completed a spinathon, raising almost £2,000.
“All of the crescent link businesses were involved either by putting forward staff to do a 15-minute cycle and raising £50 for the 15 minutes or, by donating items for the numerous spot prizes on offer or by giving a financial contribution.
“Halfords supplied a racing bike with turbo trainer valued at over £600 for the event allowing computers to compete in the most distance travelled in the 15 minutes.
“The winner was Boots participant Sean Nash with a distance of 4.55 miles,” said Diana, who took a spin on the bike for 15 minutes.
“Never in a million years did I think we would raise £27,000 when we did the China trek,” said Diana. “I think Rosamunde and Ronnie would be delighted.”
Diana expressed a “big thank you” to everyone who has ever supported the family, including her colleagues.
“People are so kind,” she said.
Action Cancer charity provides early detection clinics, a Big Bus mobile screening unit, health promotion for workplaces, community groups and schools, men’s health checks, counselling and complementary therapies for people living with the diagnosis of cancer and their families, it is the only charity In Ireland to offer breast screening for women.
To contact the charity ring Belfast 02890803344.
To sponsor the Parker family go the their ‘Justgiving’ page, Phillip, Simon and Diana’s Trek for Action Cancer.