The Sheerin family from Derry/ Londonderry are making a very special wish this Christmas in support of local charity, Friends of the Cancer Centre.
Richie, along with his wife Lisa and son Aedan (5), are supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Wish Upon A Star appeal, where for a donation of £10 people can dedicate a star to someone special on the charity’s virtual Christmas tree. The Sheerin family are proudly supporting the appeal to say thanks for the care and support their family has received since Richie was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called myeloma in 2018, when he was just 35 years old. Richie embarked on an intensive treatment programme and throughout it all, he and his family have been supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre. Today, Richie is sharing his story to help raise awareness and funds so the charity can help other families like his.
Describing his shock diagnosis, Richie explains:
“When the doctor mentioned the word cancer I didn’t feel sad or angry. I felt uncertain and it felt like the lights were turned off. At the time, the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital didn’t have radiotherapy set up, so I travelled to the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast every day for five weeks. Following another scan, my consultant confirmed there were six other tumours throughout my body. At this point the disease was out of control.”
As well as receiving treatment at the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin and the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast, Richie was also cared for by a myeloma specialist in London. Richie’s treatment was complex and included radiotherapy, chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants.
“The treatment was intense, but after my first stem cell transplant in November 2019 I started to feel a lot better and in January 2020, I had scan which couldn’t detect cancer anywhere. However, I still needed a second transplant. We tested my four brothers to see if any of them would be a match and thankfully my brother, Damian, was and he has been my life-saver. Everything was ready to go for my second transplant in March 2020 and then COVID-19 happened and it became unsafe. When COVID-19 restrictions eased in August 2020, I got the call from Belfast City Hospital to tell me they had a bed for me and I was admitted for the second transplant.
“After a really difficult couple of years, at the end of 2020 doctors confirmed I was in remission. However, things changed again in January 2021 when I got the news that my cancer was back. Since then, I have been receiving chemotherapy treatment and I am feeling positive at the moment.”
Since his diagnosis and treatment, Richie has become dedicated to supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre. As well as raising over £2,000 for the charity with his friends at Team Racing Without Borders and Zwift, Richie and his family are also proudly supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Wish Upon A Star appeal. For a donation of £10, people are invited to dedicate a star with a wish, message or name of a loved one, on the charity’s virtual Christmas tree on our website. Everyone who dedicates a star online will also be offered their very own star to hang on their tree at home, keeping that special wish or someone close at this time of year.
Sharing why the charity and its Wish Upon A Star appeal is close to his heart, Richie explains:
“The care I have received, and continue to receive from the team at Altnagelvin and Belfast is fantastic. Whilst I am looked after by two hospitals 70 miles apart, the thread that brings them together is Friends of the Cancer Centre. The charity supports vital work at both hospitals and as a patient, you can see the incredible difference it makes. I am so proud to support the charity’s Wish Upon A Star appeal and I would encourage anyone reading my story to get involved. Not only is it a lovely way to say thank you or remember someone special, every penny raised will go on to help thousands of families right across Northern Ireland. Families like mine.”
If you would like to Wish Upon A Star, please visit our bespoke donation page Wish Upon a Star – Friends of the Cancer Centre or telephone (028) 90699393.