Inspirational story of Derry’s Michelle McCann told in ‘Flying Free’ book by Jacinta McShane

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A Derry woman who says her battle with breast cancer helped her deal with abuse she suffered as a child has penned a new book telling the stories of others for whom cancer gave them an opportunity to live.

Jacinta McShane who now lives in Buckinghamshire has just released ‘Flying Free’,

A wave to the shore as Michelle McCann arrives in Greencastle on board the Derry-Londonderry Clipper. (0607PG08)

A wave to the shore as Michelle McCann arrives in Greencastle on board the Derry-Londonderry Clipper. (0607PG08)

“There are so many ‘doom and gloom’ bogus myths scaring most of us to death even before cancer has a chance,” she said. “‘Flying Free’ does not just dispel these myths, it blasts them out of the water!”

“My own healing journey has opened up the world for me and given me life. Cancer has taken me into my past, released my fear of the future and helped me find my present.”

One of the stories in the book concerns Michelle McCann, Jacinta’s best friend’s sister, who formed part of the crew sailing around the world on The Derry Clipper in 2012.

In the book Michelle McCann details her life with her husband Dan, a man she met and fell in love with when she was just 13 years-old. After many happy years together the couple were devastated to learn that Dan had become seriously ill. He passed away eleven months later.

Jacinta McShane.

Jacinta McShane.

“On September 11, 2008, almost eleven months after he was first diagnosed, Dan died,” revealed Michelle. “He wasn’t frightened. He wasn’t in pain and his passing was gentle. I had to learn to live without him. Apart from the grief they were feeling about losing their dear father, the children were also very worried about me and how I would cope. I needed to reassure them that I would be all right, so that’s what I did. I was all right. I didn’t go to pieces. I laugh often when I think of some of the things Dan got up to over the years. He loved me with all his heart, as I did him, and I will carry that with me forever.”

The couple had been keen sailors and when Michelle read in the ‘Journal’ that Derry City Council was going to sponsor one of the yachts that would be taking part in the Clipper Round the World she decided to apply to be one of the crew.

“I was accepted! I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I laughed all the way home in the car. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I learned a lot during that year and discovered courage and strengths I never knew I had. Dan was ever present. I felt him with me and that made me smile. When we crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time I felt a terrific sense of achievement and satisfaction.

“I think somehow during that year I found the way forward. I had a lot of time to think during long quiet watches and I became aware of just how lucky I have been in life. I believe it is an honour to Dan to remember him with joy and not sadness and to look forward to the future with enthusiasm and hope.

‘Flying Free’ is available now on and at Little Acorns in Derry.