The support and banter among us all are what keeps people going

Mary Doherty. DER1815MC018
Mary Doherty. DER1815MC018

Dressed in her trade pink T-shirt, breast cancer survivor Mary Doherty is a proud Pink Lady.

Having lost her daughter Debra to bowel cancer in 2006, Mary knows only too well the devastating effect that cancer have on a family- first as the relative of someone with the disease and then fighting it herself.

It was during a routine mammogram that a suspicious lump was discovered on Mary’s breast.

“When they say suspicious, you worry,” said Mary. “I knew what it was, I just wondered how bad it was. However doctors reassured me it was a small lump. I needed two operations to remove it.

“Doctors told me I wouldn’t need chemotherapy, which I was delighted about because I watched Debra have it and saw what she went through. They recommended radium treatment which I had every day in Belfast for four weeks.

“I just want to warn other women to keep their appointments. When Debra died I was due an appointment but it went out of my mind. But I’m glad I eventually went. Don’t be scared, the doctors will reassure you.

“Most cancers are curable if they are caught early.”

Mary says the Pink Ladies are a great support for any woman battling cancer or family member needing support.

“We meet every Tuesday,” she said. “And the Pink Ladies Choir meets once a week. There are about 60 Pink Ladies on the register.”

But for Mary, the support and banter are what keeps bringing people back to the Pink Ladies.

“We are all friends and we are from all parts of Derry,” she said. “As well as meeting each week and our coffee mornings we are always fundraising.

“Lobbying is a huge part of what we do and it was great how we all came together to fight for the radiotherapy unit.

“Don’t be afraid to come here. A cancer diagnosis is not the end of the world. The support is here for everyone.”