Stars shine bright for Sorcha

Monday, 16 November 2015

This Christmas the Cancer Centre's Christmas tree will once again shine bright with hundreds of gold stars as part of our Wish Upon a Star appeal.


Each year, for a donation of £5, the Cancer Centre's Christmas tree is adorned with hundreds of gold stars, each carrying the personal wish, message or name of a loved one affected by cancer. People who make a wish will also be given their very own star to hang on their tree at home, keeping that special someone close at this time of year.  This year Friends of the Cancer Centre is also offering anyone who can’t make it to the Cancer Centre the opportunity to make a wish online by dedicating a star on the charity’s virtual Christmas tree .


This year the Glenn family from Derry/Londonderry was the first to make their very special wish when they dedicated their star to their daughter, sister and girlfriend, Sorcha.  Sorcha was just 23 when she lost her battle with cervical cancer in October 2014.  This will be the family’s second Christmas without Sorcha and while it will be difficult for the family and Sorcha’s friends, they will be using the festive period to remember her in a very special way through our Wish Upon a Star appeal.  Sorcha's mum, Christina, said:


"Christmas is really hard because it was her favorite time of year, she absolutely loved it.  She and I would fight every year over the Christmas tree, she would say I had to have it up and I would say I don't have to do anything, there was always an argument about putting it up.


"We have a tradition in this house that every year we take down the Christmas tree and you must write down three good things that happened during the year.  Last year I thought what are we going to write about and I just wrote, Sorcha's smile."



Sorcha received treatment at the Cancer Centre and was looked after by Friends of the Cancer Centre's clinical nurse specialist for teenagers and young adults, Renee Reid.  Explaining the difference Renee made to Sorcha and the wider family, Christina added:


"I do not have words to explain what Renee did for Sorcha.  To say she was amazing does not give her credit. I just do not have the words for her.


"They made her smile in the darkest times and that smile was priceless, they were just amazing, absolutely amazing.  They walk with you. As a family you are walking and you do not know what path you are on but they walk with you. Renee was always there to ask questions.


Recalling one very special day, Christina added:


"Sorcha was very ill and it was her boyfriend Matt's birthday just before she passed away and she always made a big deal of his birthday, as he did for her. She said it's Matt's birthday and I'm stuck here and he will have a terrible time.  So Renee sent Matt down to the hospital shop and she climbed over Sorcha and started hanging up balloons and had a cake and that made Sorcha laugh so much.  She was so happy with that so when he came back he was so shocked. It's not a big thing but you know they are always there, it was those tiny things that made her so happy."


Since Sorcha’s sad passing, the family have rallied together to raise awareness around cervical cancer screening and their drive to lower the age that women can get a life-saving smear test.  Not only that, but Team Sorcha has been raising vital funds for Friends of the Cancer Centre and on the first anniversary of Sorcha’s death, ten of the team took to the sky for a skydive, including Sorcha’s dad Vincent, sister Keelin, brother Emmett and boyfriend Matt:


Talking about the skydive, Matt said:


"It was something positive to do on the day, to keep us going.  I did not want to be sitting around the house, doing something positive was right because Sorcha was so positive from the very start. She never let anything get her down.  We wanted to do something we would never normally do and she would be laughing because none of us can do heights.  Sorcha went through so much in hospital that if she can go through what she did, it wasn't much for us to do that."


Calling on others to support the Wish Upon a Star appeal, Christina said:


 "I would like any and everybody to do it, it's just £5 for a gold star. Help them to make others smile in their darkest days because that smile lights up the darkness, it is worth it.  Help them to make others smile in their darkest days because that smile lights up the darkness, it is worth it.  Sorcha will be smiling over me when I put my gold star up."


Sorcha's boyfriends, Matt, added:


"We just want to support Friends of the Cancer Centre now, we want to get behind the Wish Upon a Star campaign because it is something we have done and it's nice to have a wee star on a tree, just something to remind you the person is still there or for something who is fighting."


How you can Wish Upon a Star this Christmas:

  • Call to Friends of the Cancer Centre's office, ground floor of the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hopsital and you can hang your star on the hospital's tree and take one for your tree at home

  • You can make a wish on our new virtual tree here and add your twinkling star to the beautiful online tree

  • Call us on 028 9069 9393 and we would be happy to take your wish over the phone


    Find out more about the Team Sorcha’s campaign to introduce cervical screening on demand here.

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