Claire takes on Slieve Donard

A Hillsborough woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at just 16 years old is taking on Northern Ireland’s highest peak to raise money to support our vital work.

Claire Flanigan, now 24 years old, is one of the brave people taking on our Slieve Donard Challenge, which will see supporters from across Northern Ireland climb 850m to reach the summit on Saturday 10th September. Claire and her dad, Peter, are calling on others to join them in the challenge to help raise vital funds for a cause close to their hearts. The father and daughter duo are taking part to thank the team who cared for Claire after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, in particular Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist Renée Reid, who looked after Claire through her diagnosis and treatment.

 

Claire, who is originally from Belfast but is currently living in Hillsborough and works as a supervisor in Screwfix Bangor, is marking eight years since her diagnosis by taking on the challenge.  Looking back at her diagnosis, Claire said:

 “I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014 at the age of 16.  The diagnosis was a huge shock to everyone, including my friends and family who couldn’t believe that I was diagnosed with this type of cancer at such a young age.  I started treatment at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre where I underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy in a four week period, followed by a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy to remove my right ovary and fallopian tube.

“I was lucky that Friends of the Cancer Centre was there to support my family and me through all the difficult decisions we had to face, including funding the nurse who was there for me through it all.  Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Clinical Nurse Specialist for Teenagers and Young Adults, Renée Reid was on hand to help us every step of the way, right up until my final appointment in May 2022.”

 

Reflecting on the support Renée gave the Flanigan family, Claire continued:

“Renée helped our family more than she will ever know, and she will always have a huge impact on my life.  Renée came to see me almost every day when I was on treatment and she just chatted with me as a friend. Renée helped keep me calm when doctors and nurses were doing continuous testing, and she was there for every difficult appointment supporting me and my family.  She was there for me after my operation to see how I was recovering and even after being given the all clear, she continued to turn up for my check-up appointments and was always checking in on both myself and my family. I’ll never forget her.

I follow Friends of the Cancer Centre on Facebook and when I saw a post about the Slieve Donard Challenge I knew instantly it was something I wanted to do.  I’ve done other fundraisers in the past for the charity and they are always so thankful for everything. I love nothing more than being able to support those who supported me, which is why I’m really looking forward to the climb as I know the money me and dad raise will play a really important role in supporting the charity’s vital work.”

 

Claire’s dad, Peter, will also be taking part in the Slieve Donard Challenge to show his support for the charity and his thanks to Renée for the care and support shown to his family through Claire’s treatment.  He added:

“Renée was there for us all the time, answering any questions we had and she talked us through every step of Claire’s treatment.  In fact, all the staff were amazing and we are so grateful to each and every one of them. As for Claire, it has taken her all this time to talk about her illness and as a family we are all very proud of her. We are incredibly grateful to Friends of the Cancer Centre for funding Renée’s post, as without her our experience would have been very different.  To say thank you, Claire and I decided to take on Slieve Donard together and we are really looking forward to taking on the challenge as we know every step will help support this amazing charity and the work of amazing nurses like Renée.”

 

We are calling on others to follow in Claire and Peter’s footsteps by signing up for the Slieve Donard Challenge on Saturday 10th September.  Amy Cowan, Fundraising Officer at Friends of the Cancer Centre, said:

 “On behalf of the charity I would like to say a huge thank you to Claire and Peter for signing up for our Slieve Donard Challenge. The event, which is proudly supported by Warmflow Home Heating Solutions, is the perfect opportunity to climb Northern Ireland’s highest peak with a great group of people, for a cause that impacts thousands of people – people like Claire – every day.  Every step to the summit will be a step in support of the charity and the people we support.  The money raised will make a huge difference to our work, where £25 could help us fund one hour of care from a nurse like Renée.”

We would love people from across Northern Ireland to join us on the day, so if you would like to take part you can sign-up HERE or telephone our fundraising team on 028 9069 9393.

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