Half Marathon team take on the challenge for Friends of the Cancer Centre

A group of friends from across Northern Ireland have raised £4,072.34 for local charity Friends of the Cancer Centre by taking part in the Belfast Half Marathon.

On 18th September this year, Gemma Hamilton, Victoria Swan, Sarah McCabe and Emma Kieran took on the marathon challenge to raise as much money as possible for Friends of the Cancer Centre, which is a cause close to their hearts.  The team chose to run for the charity after some of their close friendship group were impacted by cancer.  Their good friend Rachael Curlett was diagnosed with Primary CNS Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January 2022 and has spent most of this year undergoing treatment including chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Team member Gemma has also had her own experience with cancer.  In January this year, Gemma was diagnosed with Stage 1 Papillary Thyroid Cancer after undergoing an operation to remove a lump on her thyroid. Thankfully Gemma has not required any further treatment, but she has become determined to support her friend and raise money for the charity.   In addition to Rachael and Gemma’s diagnosis, Sarah’s aunt, Ann McBrien is currently living with secondary breast cancer and has chemotherapy at the Cancer Centre every three weeks.  On her initial primary diagnosis in 2013, Ann was supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Breast Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist and now receives support from the charity’s Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse.

Speaking about her own experience and why the group of friends wanted to support Friends of the Cancer, Gemma Hamilton said:

“Being told I had cancer was such a shock and although the cancer was removed, the mental challenges that came with it is something I deal with daily. It made me realise that as long as you have your health, everything else is a bonus.

“When Rachael was diagnosed, we knew we had to do something positive and decided to take on the Belfast Half Marathon to raise money for Friends of the Cancer Centre.  As a group of friends we became aware of how we have all benefitted from the charity’s work, so we wanted to give something back.  We are so glad we could do this for Rachael, Ann and all of our friends and family who have been impacted by cancer and benefitted from the work of Friends of the Cancer Centre.  We are incredibly proud to have raised such an incredible amount and know that it will go on to make a real difference to so many other families across Northern Ireland.”

Friends of the Cancer Centre is dedicated to making a real and meaningful difference to cancer patients and their families across Northern Ireland.  The charity is here to enhance the quality of patient care and support through its life-changing and life-saving work which includes funding specialist nurses, supporting local research and providing practical support, such as financial grants, which help families through a difficult time.  Friends of the Cancer Centre relies on the generosity of the local community and all money donated stays in Northern Ireland, directly benefitting patients and their families.

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 Gemma, Sarah, Victoria and Emma for taking on this challenge.  The money they have raised will make a real difference to our work and could help fund 160 hours of care from one of our amazing nurses.  We would love more people from across Northern Ireland to sign up to running events and raise vital sponsorship, for more details on how you can help us to continue our work visit our website at www.friendsofthecancercentre.com or call the charity on 028 9069 9393.”

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