Derry family join Friends of North West Cancer Centre for Wish Upon A Star appeal

The North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Area Hospital will be shining bright this Christmas in support of local charity Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Wish Upon A Star appeal.

By Brendan McDaid
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 10:11 am

Staff and patients at the hospital are proudly supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre’s annual appeal, where for a donation of £10 people can dedicate a star to someone special on the charity’s virtual Christmas tree.

Western Trust staff Lesley Mitchell, Interim Assistant Director of Nursing for Cancer and Diagnostics; Una Cardin, Assistant Director for Operations and Service Improvement, Cancer and Diagnostic Services, and Natalie Martin, Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialist, were joined by 39-year-old Richie Sheerin and his family to launch this year’s appeal.

The Sheerin family are supporting the appeal after Richie was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called myeloma in 2018, when he was just 35 years old. Richie embarked on an intensive treatment programme, receiving great care at the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Area Hospital and the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast. Throughout it all, Richie and his family have been supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre, which supports vital projects at both hospitals.

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The Sheerin family from Derry are making a very special wish this Christmas in support of local charity, Friends of the Cancer Centre. Richie, along with his wife Lisa and five year old son Aedan, are supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Wish Upon A Star appeal.

The team at the North West Cancer Centre are proud to support the appeal, as they know it means a great deal to patients at this time of year. Lesley Mitchell, Interim Assistant Director, Nursing, for Cancer and Diagnostics, said: “We are calling on staff and patients to get involved. It is a wonderful way to say thank you or remember someone special at this time of year. Not only that, but money raised from the appeal will go on to support vital projects in the North West Cancer Centre, including financial grants, which have a direct impact on the patients and families we support every day.”

The appeal is an opportunity for families impacted by cancer to share their wishes or messages on the charity’s virtual tree.

Richie Sheerin said: “When the doctor mentioned the word cancer I didn’t feel sad or angry. I felt uncertain and it felt like the lights were turned off. Not long after my diagnosis, I embarked on a complex treatment plan, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants and received wonderful care from both the North West Cancer Centre and the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast.

“The treatment was intense, but after my first stem cell transplant in November 2019 I started to feel a lot better and in January 2020, I had a scan which couldn’t detect cancer anywhere. However, I still needed a second transplant. We tested my four brothers to see if any of them would be a match and thankfully my brother, Damian, was and he has been my life-saver. Everything was ready to go for my second transplant in March 2020 and then COVID-19 happened and it became unsafe. When COVID-19 restrictions eased in August 2020, I got the call from Belfast City Hospital to tell me they had a bed for me and I was admitted for the second transplant. After a really difficult couple of years, at the end of 2020 doctors confirmed I was in remission. However, things changed again in January 2021 when I got the news that my cancer was back. Since then, I have been receiving chemotherapy treatment and I am feeling positive at the moment.”

Richie Sheerin and Natalie Martin, Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialist at the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, are supporting local charity Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Wish Upon A Star appeal this Christmas.

Since his diagnosis and treatment, Richie has become dedicated to supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre and is now proudly supporting the charity’s Wish Upon A Star appeal. For a donation of £10, people are invited to dedicate a star with a wish, message or name of a loved one, on the charity’s virtual Christmas tree at www.friendsofthecancercentre.com. Everyone who dedicates a star online will also be offered their own star to hang on their tree at home.

Richie’s star is dedicated to all those who supported him and his family. He added: “The care I have received, and continue to receive from the team at Altnagelvin and Belfast is fantastic. Whilst I am looked after by two hospitals 70 miles apart, the thread that brings them together is Friends of the Cancer Centre. The charity supports vital work at both hospitals and as a patient, you can see the incredible difference it makes. I am so proud to support the charity’s Wish Upon A Star appeal and I would encourage anyone reading my story to get involved. Not only is it a lovely way to say thank you or remember someone special, every penny raised will go on to help thousands of families right across Northern Ireland. Families like mine.”

If you would like to Wish Upon A Star, visit www.friendsofthecancercentre.com

(From left) Lesley Mitchell, Interim Assistant Director of Nursing, Cancer and Diagnostics; Una Cardin, Assistant Director for Operations and Service Improvement, Cancer and Diagnostic Services; and Natalie Martin, Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialist at the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Area Hospital are showing their supporting for local charity Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Wish Upon A Star appeal. For a donation of £10, people can dedicate a star to someone special on the charity’s virtual Christmas tree with all money raised from the appeal going on support the charity’s vital work at the North West Cancer Centre and Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast. To Wish Upon A Star, please visit www.friendsofthecancercentre.com.