The Glenn family from Derry, who sadly lost their daughter to cancer, has come on-board to help Cancer Fund for Children (CFC) launch its participation in global Childhood Cancer Awareness Month which runs throughout September.
Christina Glenn’s daughter, Sorcha, passed away from cervical cancer in October last year, aged just 23.
The family was helped by the Cancer Fund for Children throughout Sorcha’s cancer journey and was given one-to-one specialist support as well as free therapeutic short breaks at its Daisy Lodge facility in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains near Newcastle in County Down.
Along with other families across Northern Ireland supported by Cancer Fund for Children, the Glenn family is now getting behind the charity’s month long CCAM awareness and fundraising campaign.
Sorcha’s family now campaigns so that all women under the age of 20 can get smears on demand.
Her mum Christina said: “Once Sorcha was diagnosed, cancer moved into our home. Physically moved in – like another person in our home. Everything revolved around cancer.
“Caitriona, our Cancer Fund for Children Specialist, was always there to give us moral support. Even when we were in Derry and she was in Belfast, she was always there – we could just pick up the phone to her.
Caitriona was not only a great source of comfort to Sorcha through one-to-one support but also to myself, her boyfriend, Matt, and the whole family. When in the midst of a cancer diagnosis or when a member of your family is going through treatment you can’t get beyond that moment. In the midst of the illness you don’t actually know you need the support because you are so caught up.”
Christina revealed that the first time Sorcha and Matt went to Daisy Lodge, she “came through the door of the house on the Sunday and in her soul, body and mind she was totally relaxed. She got so much out of her stay there.”
During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Fund for Children will be campaigning to support even more families just like the Glenns whose lives have been devastated by cancer.
Every week in Northern Ireland, another three children, teenagers or young adults will be diagnosed while, across Ireland, the total is seven. The charity’s ambition is that no family should face cancer alone.
Across September, Cancer Fund for Children will shine a light on some of the powerful personal stories of families, including the Glenns, who will speak for themselves about the devastation and isolation that accompanies the illness and treatment.
And, in a very practical way, CFC will share the insight, expertise and knowledge of its Specialist Services’ team built on experience gained over 40-years’ of knowing that, beyond essential medical care, there is a family life that needs nurtured and rebuilt.
Across the four weeks, Cancer Fund for Children will also launch its ‘Gimme 5’ direct debit campaign - in which the public can donate £5 per month - as well as a range of other fundraising events.
Gillian Creevy, CEO of Cancer Fund for Children, said: “We have a busy and important time ahead during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Our campaigning and fundraising activities will allow us to do even more to provide practical, financial and emotional support in the family home, in the community and in the hospital ward to help families cope with the impact cancer has on their lives supporting them during and after treatment and, sadly, in some cases, bereavement.
“They will also help fund and support essential services such as Daisy Lodge which provides free short therapeutic breaks. It’s our long term goal to provide every family with a free short therapeutic break to include families nursing a child with cancer, bereaved families and families in which a parent has been diagnosed with cancer.”
Currently, Cancer Fund for Children is carrying out a Family Needs Survey across Ireland to inform how it might extend the reach and value of what it does and is seeking a range of views and opinions from families who have already used its services and from others who might benefit from them in the future. Log on to www.cancerfundforchildren.com to participate.
It is also extending its Travel for Short Breaks grants into the ROI to assist ‘door to door’ transit for families travelling to Daisy Lodge, in the Shimna Valley Complex in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, Newcastle, County Down.
For Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Fund for Children will work collaboratively with partners including the Childhood Cancer Foundation in the Republic of Ireland and CLIC Sargent in support of the Light It Up Gold Campaign developed and run by Childhood Cancer Foundation.
It will see many landmark and civic buildings across Ireland lit gold as part of an international visual campaign, originating in the US, to raise awareness about childhood cancer.
In NI, buildings include the Guildhall in Derry, the Alley Theatre in Strabane, The Palace, Armagh and Banbridge Old Town Hall - among others.
In the Republic, upwards of 70 buildings are participating including The Convention Centre and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and Trim Castle, Co Meath. In Britain, buildings will light up gold for a day on September 15.
For more info, check out www.cancerfundforchildren.com