Margaret Callaghan had a gentle heart and fierce determination

Margaret Callaghan.
Margaret Callaghan.

A Donegal woman who spent her life campaigning for better services for cancer patients in the North West has passed away peacefully at her home in Carrygault, Ramelton.

Margaret Callaghan (87) who helped turn the sod in Altnagelvin for the new Radiotherapy Unit on July 9th 2014, only recently travelled into Derry with her son to see the construction of the unit for herself.

Members of Co-operating for Cancer Care NorthWest, CCC(NW) paid tribute to their “senior, highly esteemed colleague and dear friend.”

Margaret had for 11 years campaigned fearlessly for the retention and development of cancer services in Letterkenny University Hospital and for the provision of radiotherapy services in the NorthWest.

Having achieved the retention of sympathetic breast services and the appointment of a permanent consultant breast surgeon at Letterkenny, one of CCC(NW)’s top priorities was to lobby on both sides of the Border to ensure that the possibility of a radiotherapy unit in the North West Region became a reality.

Margaret lobbied the length and breadth of this island,

Her message and that of every CCC(NW) member was simple and easy to understand. The people of Donegal and the North West Region needed a radiotherapy unit in either Letterkenny General or Altnagelvin Hospital to treat cancer patients locally and we needed to work together, speaking with one united voice to achieve this goal.

Margaret was passionate regarding the necessity of locating this facility in the NorthWest Region to serve cancer patients in Donegal/NW.

A very happy and proud moment for her and her colleagues who accompanied her was when she represented CCC(NW) and helped turn the sod for the Cross border North West Radiotherapy Unit. Unfortunately, Margaret did not live to see the opening of the Unit that is due to become operational in late autumn of this year, but she made sure she inspected its progress when she travelled, shortly before her death, with her son to Altnagelvin to see it in its construction stage. It gave Margaret great joy and solace to know that the vast majority of future Donegal cancer patients requiring radiotherapy treatment will be spared long physical, psychological and financial distressing journeys for treatment.

All in CCC(NW) recognised in Margaret the qualities of a woman of great and gentle heart and fierce determination. She spoke with a quiet authority, a wise woman. She was a true and loyal friend. A woman who demonstrated a great sense of fun, compassion and kindness, a woman of great integrity.

Margaret had been a member of Donegal Action for Cancer and she served on its County Committee from May 2005 until she resigned with others in early 2007 and joined fellow past DACC members to establish Co-operating for Cancer Care NorthWest in March 2007.

Margaret Callaghan, made a difference, she was a truly strong, kind, determined woman who worked to ensure that cancer patients treatment and lives were improved. All of us in CCC(NW) will dearly miss her, we have lost a sister, a cherished member of the CCC(NW) family.

Members of CCC(NW) offer sincere condolences to our highly esteemed member, Margaret’s daughter Elizabeth Gibbons, and to all Margaret’s sons and daughters, in-laws, grandchildren and extended family circle. May Margaret rest in peace.